The number of DWI arrests in Minnesota declined by almost 40% between 2006 and 2015. This is due to public education efforts, stringent legal and administrative punishments, and increased efforts by law enforcement to identify problem drivers. Despite these improvements, 95 people still died on Minnesota roads in 2015 from accidents caused by impaired driving.
Don’t let your night on the town turn into a nightmare. If drinks are a part of your plans, use these tips to make sure your adult fun stays legal, and safe for everyone.
DWI Laws in Minnesota
Minnesota law defines DWI as operating a motor vehicle with a blood-alcohol level of .08 or more. Evidence of schedule I or II drugs as defined by the Controlled Substances Act also qualifies as a violation of the DWI laws. Marijuana is currently exempt.
If you are approached by an officer who suspects you are operating a vehicle while under the influence of prohibited substances, you must submit to a chemical test of your blood, breath, or urine. Under the implied consent law, by choosing to operate a vehicle in the state of Minnesota, you agree to furnish any samples requested by law enforcement officials. Failure to consent is an additional charge.
Those found guilty of DWI will receive harsh and expensive punitive sanctions.
- Having your driver’s license revoked, plates impounded, or vehicle forfeited are common administrative penalties.
- Criminal penalties include jail time, probation, mandatory substance abuse treatment, monitoring, and fines.
Before You Leave
Make a few decisions before you leave home so you can enjoy your party.
- The safest way to have fun with friends is to choose a designated driver. One selfless soul agrees to stay sober all night to ensure a guaranteed safe, comfortable, and convenient ride home for the rest of the group. Rotate duties for regular get-togethers, so no one feels left out.
- Plan your trip using public transportation. More obscure locations may require a little walking, but it’s worth it to avoid years of expensive legal problems. Check schedules before your trip, and give yourself plenty of time to make connections and find stops.
- Call a cab. Make the trip budget-friendly by sharing the ride with others. Be aware that extra stops and passengers sometimes incur additional fees.
Things don’t always go as planned. The single glass of wine at dinner can become several shots of tequila at the bar before you know it. If you’re already out with your vehicle, use backup resources to avoid problems.
- Ridesharing programs like Lyft and Uber are an affordable way to get you home from almost anywhere. They are usually faster than cabs, and the driver might even let you play some tunes if you’re nice. Keep in mind, drivers have the right to eject belligerent or uncooperative passengers.
- Call someone. Your mother-in-law, neighbor, or best friend can pick you up, bring you home, and drop you back off at your vehicle the next morning.
- Get some rest. If you can’t walk or get a ride, you’re going to have to wait to sober up. Depending on many factors, including race, gender, weight, and how much you’ve eaten, it can take a full hour for your body to process one 8 to 12-ounce beer.
- Don’t take chances. Caffeine, food, and other attempts to sober up might make you feel more alert temporarily, but they do not reduce your blood alcohol level. Don’t drive drunk.
Be the Voice of Reason
Don’t let your loved ones drive drunk. Don’t be afraid to step in if someone you know has had too much. They will thank you later.
- Make sure the designated driver is the only one with car keys before the festivities begin.
- Ask everyone how they plan on getting home when planning events.
- If someone is intoxicated and insists on trying to drive themselves, you might have to call the police. Take their keys and keep them safe until help arrives.
By avoiding a DWI conviction you also bypass life-changing tragedy and years of wasted potential.
With over 70 years of experience in Minnesota law, Rogosheske, Rogosheske & Atkins has the knowledge to guide you through the DWI process. Contact the legal experts at our St. Paul office to discuss your DWI case.