For those who have recently been arrested in Minnesota for drunk driving, one of the questions most likely to be on your mind is, “What is the worst thing that could happen?” Many people understandably fear the unknown, and given that first time DWI arrestees are likely unfamiliar with the state’s criminal justice system it can be helpful to hear about the worst possible outcome in a Minnesota DWI case.
In Minnesota, the law says that anyone who is found to be in control of a moving or parked vehicle can be arrested and charged with drunk driving if his or her BAC (blood alcohol concentration) is 0.08 percent or higher (the number is actually lower, 0.04 percent, for those in a commercial motor vehicle). If you are found with a BAC that exceeds the legal limits, you can be convicted of a Minnesota DWI and face potentially serious legal consequences.
Before diving into the possible penalties associated with a DWI, it’s important to note that more than 30,000 drivers across Minnesota are arrested each and every year for drunk driving. Though the state does have laws that specify the possible punishments for impaired driving, it’s important to understand that the results vary on a case-by-case basis, shifting dramatically depending on the specific facts of your case.
The first penalty faced by those who receive a Minnesota DWI involves the installation of an ignition interlock device. These devices are required for all first-time drunk drivers who are found to have a BAC of 0.16 percent or above. If you refuse to install and IID on your car then you will have your driving privileges revoked for a minimum of one year. If your BAC was less than 0.16, then you must endure 90 days of no driving privileges. Drivers can choose to use an ignition interlock device to more quickly get back behind the wheel.
Regarding criminal penalties, the law says that the maximum jail time that could be given to someone arrested with a BAC under 0.20 percent is 90 days. The same person could also face a maximum fine of $1,000. These penalties are heightened in some cases. First, if a driver is arrested with a child in the car, then he or she could face up to one year in jail and a fine of $3,000. Those arrested with a 0.20 percent BAC or greater similarly face a worst-case scenario of one year behind bars and a $3,000 fine.
The absolute worst-case scenario of all for a first-time offender is if you are charged with a gross misdemeanor for having a child in the car and for having a BAC of 0.20 percent or higher. In that case, the driver could be sent to jail for up to one year, pay a $3,000 fine and have his or her vehicle seized.
It’s important to stress that these are only the worst-case scenarios and penalties are often reduced well below the statutory maximums. With the help of an experienced Minnesota drunk driving lawyer, you can be sure to have guidance as you navigate the confusing process.