PinAmidst all of the talk and publicity surrounding DWI law-related news regarding new legislation and potential criminal punishments following a DWI conviction, in addition to these serious criminal sanctions, Minnesota’s administrative sanctions may add considerably to a defendant’s headache.

Pursuant to Minnesota Statutes, Section 169A, there are three administrative sanctions that begin immediately following a subject’s arrest.

Administrative License Revocation (ALR)

The state’s implied consent law kicks into effect during a subject’s arrest—whether following a chemical test refusal or failure—during which time the law enforcement officer provides the offender with a seven-day temporary driver’s license until his/her revocation is effective. The period of revocation depends on the facts of the case and the defendant’s prior criminal history. Individuals whose licenses have been administratively revoked can appeal by filing a request for review through the Department of Public Safety (DPS).

The revocation periods are as follows:

  • For a person with no prior impaired driving incidents within the previous ten years whose blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was below 0.16, and there were no other aggravating factors, the period of revocation is ninety (90) days; however, this period can be reduced to thirty (30) days following conviction if the defendant has no prior DWI convictions or implied consent revocations.
  • For individuals under the age of 21 at the time of the offense with a BAC below 0.16, the revocation period is six (6) months.
  • If the individual refused to submit to a chemical BAC test—or if his/her BAC is 0.16 or higher—the revocation period is one (1) year.
  • For individuals whose BAC level was 0.16 or higher and who have a prior DWI conviction or implied consent revocation within ten years, the revocation period is two (2) years.
  • Finally, one’s license can be canceled indefinitely as “inimical to public safety,” for a third or subsequent impaired driving violation within a ten-year period.

License Plate Impoundment

An individual’s license plates may be impounded if certain aggravating factors exist such as:

  • A subsequent impaired driving violation occurring within ten years of a prior impaired driving violation
  • A BAC of 0.16 or greater
  • Having a child under the age of 16 years old in the vehicle at the time of the offense
  • When the offense occurs while the individual’s license was canceled as inimical to public safety

Vehicles subject to plate impoundment include the vehicle used in the violation at hand and/or any vehicle registered, leased, or owned in the offender’s name, whether by him/herself or jointly.

The arresting officer issues the plate impoundment order and seizes the plates at the time of arrest, and s/he issues the offender a seven-day temporary permit, or 45 days if another person other than the offender is the vehicle’s owner.

Plate impoundment lasts a minimum of one year. During this time, the offender may not operate any vehicle unless said vehicle has specially coded license plates signifying impoundment of the vehicle’s regular plates for an impaired driving offense. These special plates are issued only if:

  • The offender has a substitute driver who is properly licensed
  • The offender has been relicensed
  • A member of the offender’s household is validly licensed
  • The vehicle’s owner is not the offender and is properly licensed

Administrative Vehicle Forfeiture

Upon a third impaired driving violation within ten years—or a first or second offense with aggravating or enhancing factors—the arresting officer may seize the vehicle. Following the initial seizure, the prosecutor must serve notice of vehicle forfeiture to the vehicle’s owner(s), and the owner has thirty (30) days to appeal the forfeiture action.

Legally, a vehicle may be subject to forfeiture if used:

  • To commit a particular offense and the driver was the offender and convicted of said offense
  • By a driver with a license revocation who failed to seek judicial or administrative review of the revocation or if the revocation was, in fact, sustained following review
  • By someone other than the owner if the owner knew or should have known that the driver intended to use the vehicle unlawfully

Of note, other vehicles owned by the offender are not subject to the forfeiture order.

Following a forfeiture, the arresting agency may sell the vehicle or keep it for official use, or the lien holder may decide to sell it.

A more detailed breakdown of these administrative sanctions and time frames can be found here.