If you have just had a couple of beers or an alcoholic drink, you may think yourself perfectly capable of driving. Unfortunately, you may find that you are not in as much control of your faculties as you thought. Alcohol clouds judgment, vision and reflexes, and if your driving becomes even slightly erratic, you may be stopped on suspicion of DWI: driving while impaired. In Minnesota, you will likely face both criminal and administrative penalties and, depending on the circumstances, these can be extremely harsh.
Not confined to cars
You can be charged with a DWI if you are operating any kind of vehicle: car, truck, motorcycle, snowmobile, ATV, boat-even a golf cart or riding lawn mower. The legal limit based on your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08 percent. You can be charged with a DWI of 0.04 percent if you are operating a commercial vehicle and arrested for less than 0.08 percent if you are under the age of 21. You will face tougher penalties if a child was in the car with you or if anyone was injured.
Penalties for underage drivers
If you are charged with a first-time DWI offense and you are under the age of 21, you are looking at a fine of $700 and/or 90 days in jail. You will also lose your driving privileges. Penalties can go up to $3,000 and the possibility of a year in jail. Keep in mind that underage drinking and driving offenses remain on your record for a minimum of 15 years.
Penalties for first-time adult offenders
For a first offense, jail time can be as much as 90 days and $1,000 in fines. Your license could be suspended for 90 to 180 days. In fact, the latter will apply if you had a passenger at or under the age of 60. In addition, if you refused to take a breath test when you were stopped by authorities, your license will automatically be suspended for one year.
Jail for repeat offenders
If you should be charged with a DWI for the second or third time within ten years of the previous offense, you could be sentenced to jail for up to one year. Second- and third-time offenses are seen as gross misdemeanors, but a fourth charge is a felony. You could go to jail for up to seven years and pay a fine of $14,000.
Looking for representation
No matter the circumstances of your DWI charge, you would be wise to seek help from a defense attorney who represents both teens and adults. If you are innocent, your rights must be defended. If you are guilty, an experienced attorney may be able to secure reduced penalties for you.