First DUI Offense in Minnesota? What You Need to Know About DUI Laws and Procedures in Minnesota.
On August 1, 2005, the legal limit of blood alcohol concentration was reduced to .08. from the previous limitation of .10. If you test with a blood alcohol content greater than that amount you will not only be charged with a criminal offense in violation of the state's drunk driving (DWI,DUI ) laws, but in an entirely separate civil proceeding, your driver's license will be revoked under the state's implied consent laws.
Minnesota's implied consent law states that if you drive, operate, or are in physical control of a motor vehicle within the state including on any lakes or waters, you consent to a chemical test of your blood, breath, or urine to determine the presence of alcohol, a controlled substance, or a hazardous substance.
Under the law, a refusal to submit to testing, either through a blood, breath, or urine sample, will result in the immediate revocation of your driving privileges. In fact, the consequence of a refusal is usually greater than the consequence of taking breath, blood or urine test and failing by having a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) greater than the legal limit. In addition to the civil ramifications of license revocation, a refusal to test is also a crime with greater penalties than related criminal offenses for having a BAC over the legal limit.
Often, refusal cases are far more difficult to win unless it can be shown that the refusal was reasonable. There are many instances when that may occur including a physical inability to comply or for other reasons related to the way the test was offered. However, in most cases, it is better to submit to testing.
If you test with a blood alcohol content in excess of the legal limit, your driver's license will be revoked or cancelled. The length of that revocation depends on:
The number of DWI or DUI convictions the driver has had;
The number of implied consent violations the driver has had; and
The driver's Blood Alcohol Level for the current violation.
The revocation periods are summarized below. In this summary, the term "prior offense" may mean a DWI/DUI, an implied consent violation, or another enhancement based on Minnesota statutes.
First offense, refusal to test: one year revocation, eligible for limited license after 15 days.
First offense, test result between 0.08% and 0.19%: 90 day revocation, eligible for limited license after 15 days.
First offense, test result 0.20% or more: 180 day revocation, eligible for limited license after 30 days.
Second offense within five years of a prior offense, driver refuses alcohol testing: one year revocation, eligible for limited license after 6 months.
Second offense within five years of a prior offense, test result between 0.08% and 0.19%: 180 day revocation, eligible for limited license after 90 days.
Second offense within five years of a prior offense, test result 0.20% or more: one year revocation, eligible for limited license after 6 months.
Second offense with one prior offense more than five years old, driver refuses alcohol testing: one year revocation, eligible for limited license after 6 months.
Second offense with one prior offense more than five years old, test result between 0.08% and 0.19%: 90 day revocation, not eligible for limited license.
Second offense with one prior offense more than five years old, test result 0.20% or more: 180 day revocation, not eligible for limited license.
Third or fourth offenses, if there are no prior offenses within the previous five years and the driver has not had a previous "special review" with the Department of Public Safety, test result between 0.08% and 0.19%: 180 day revocation, eligible for limited license after 90 days, test result 0.20% or more: one year revocation, eligible for limited license after 6 months.
It is important to recognize that far more severe consequences may apply to a driver under the age of 21 or to a driver of a commercial vehicle. An person under the age of 21 will have their license revoked for no less than six months and the revocation may be significantly longer if the driver is under the age of 18 and has a provisional driver's license.
There are many challenges to a license revocation, just like there are many challenges to a DWI charge itself. It is important to recognize that challenging the license revocation is a separate case from the criminal DWI proceeding. the Court in the criminal proceeding cannot do anything to impact your license revocation and, by failing to challenge the license revocation, you would have an implied consent violation on your record that, for all intents and purposes, is the same thing as a DWI. That is true even if you win on your DWI case. To challenge you license revocation there are also very short timelines. A petition for judicial review must be filed within thirty (3) days from the date of the revocation. As a result, this should be done immediately. In counties such as Hennepin and Ramsey, there is a distinct advantage to filing as early as possible.
There are many challenges to a DWI and the license revocation. In fact, they are too numerous to list in their entirety here. Generally, however, officers must follow very specific steps as part of the arrest. If any one step is missing, the case may be dismissed.
Reasonable Suspicion. The officer must have reasonable suspicion to believe a specific crime has been committed in order to stop a person. If that reasonable suspicion is lacking the stop and the ticket may be invalid;
Probable Cause to arrest and charge. the officer must make sufficient observations to form a basis for probable cause to believe that you were operating a vehicle while intoxicated. Oftentimes, officers perform field sobriety tests incorrectly making the arrest invalid;
Procedures at the Station. The officer must follow very specific procedures at the station including reading and recording an Implied Consent Advisory that informs you that you have a right to a lawyer. If any of the steps are omitted, the charges may be dismissed;
Test Procedures. Testing methods to determine blood alcohol concentrations are imperfect at best. Like any scientific method, any test result has a margin of error. If the machinery is not properly maintained and even if it is properly maintained, the test results may vary fro true Blood Alcohol Concentration. A sufficient variation may result in a reduce charge or no charge.
Before a person can legally drive after a license revocation, his driver's license must be reinstated. Reinstatement is not automatic and the driver must apply to have their license restored by following rules that are set up by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS). Generally, reinstatement occurs as follows:
Take and pass a written test regarding alcohol and drugs and their effect on driving ability;
Pay an reinstatement fee, which is currently $680.00 as of August 1, 2005 plus an additional application fee.
For serial DWI offenders, documentation of rehabilitation and attendance at an alcohol education class is necessary.
A driver that has been revoked may often seek seek a "Limited License" before their license is reinstated. This license is expressly for school or work purposes. The driver must interview with interview with a Driver's License Evaluator at a Department of Public Safety office and demonstrate that they are in school or working at that taking other forms of public transportation to work is not feasible.