Statistics report that almost 28,000 drivers were arrested for DWI offenses in Minnesota in 2019. That figure reflects a 4% increase from 2018.
A significant percentage of the drivers who made up that number will undoubtedly have been surprised at their breathalyzer result. Many of those who are convicted of drunk driving offenses are just marginally over the relevant limit.
The best way to stay compliant with the law here is to know how much alcohol you’re allowed to have in your system. This is known as the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit. You should also know what that means for you as an individual; different people process alcohol at different speeds.
How Much Is Too Much?
For alcohol-related DWI charges, the state of Minnesota sets out a basic legal maximum of below 0.08% blood alcohol concentration. This means that, if your blood is at or more than 8 parts alcohol per 1000 parts blood, it is an offense for you to operate a motor vehicle.
However, it’s not quite as simple as that. You can be charged with a DWI with a lower blood alcohol concentration than 0.08% if you exhibit other signs of intoxication. That limit is just the point at which no other evidence is required.
If you have a BAC over 0.16%, you may be charged with an aggravated DWI. If convicted, you’ll face a bigger fine, longer driving ban, or greater maximum jail sentence than you would have under a normal DWI.
A commercial driver’s blood alcohol concentration must be below 0.04%, when in a commercial vehicle. Drivers under the legal drinking age of 21 cannot have any alcohol in their systems whatsoever.
How Does BAC Translate into Units of Alcohol?
This is a question that is notoriously difficult to answer. As mentioned above, we all process alcohol differently. Therefore, it’s not possible to easily quantify BAC limits in terms of beers or glasses of wine. Roughly, however, you can expect to have a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% after drinking 2-4 standard units of alcohol.
The factors that affect your ability to process alcohol include:
- Your biological sex: Alcohol has less of an effect on men, per unit, than women.
- Food consumption: The more you eat before drinking, the less of an increase each unit of alcohol will bring about in your BAC. Proper hydration also lessens the effect of each drink.
- Your weight: The more you weigh, the more you’ll be able to drink before you hit a certain BAC.
DWI Penalties at Different BAC Limits in Minnesota
The penalty you incur for a DWI in Minnesota depends on a number of factors. One of these is the degree to which your blood alcohol concentration exceeds the acceptable limit. As noted above, more extensive sanctions will apply to DWI cases in which the blood alcohol concentration is over 0.16%. The greater the level of intoxication, the more extreme the likely punishment.
You should remember that BAC is not the only factor courts take into account when handing down DWI penalties. If you have been convicted of a similar offense within the last ten years, you will face a more severe punishment for your second DWI.
As well as fines and possible jail time, the State of Minnesota will impose driver’s license revocations for DWI offenders. For repeat DWI offenders, a driver may only have limited driving abilities and also be required to use an ignition interlock device (IID).
Staying on the Right Side of Minnesota DWI Law
Anyone can make a mistake when it comes to blood alcohol concentration. However, the penalties for such a mistake can be very severe indeed, so it’s important to have a solid understanding of Minnesota’s BAC limits if you’re a regular driver.
If you do end up with a DWI charge in Minnesota, the first thing to do is seek capable legal assistance. For a free review of your case, contact us today.