Minnesota is one of 11 “zero tolerance” states in the country. Zero tolerance laws target teenage drivers, expanding punishments for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The legal limit for adults is .08 percent blood alcohol content (BAC), but this limit drops to 0.0 for underage drivers.

Minnesota teens must take these limits into account before getting behind the wheel. One bad decision can result in hefty fines, the loss of one’s license or even a criminal record that follows a person around for their entire life.

Teenage drivers face daunting punishments

States take underage drunk driving very seriously. Teens continue to be overrepresented in drunk driving fatalities, as nearly one-third of all teenage deaths result from a car crash. States that enact “zero tolerance” laws saw a direct drop in fatal crashes among teens.

The state of Minnesota will charge underage drivers as adults. Those convicted will face the following criminal penalties:

  • Minimum license suspension of 90 days for a first offense
  • Mandatory alcohol education programming
  • Possible vehicle confiscation
  • Possible installation of an ignition interlock device

Those under 21 may face additional penalties, as Zero Tolerance laws make underage driving a misdemeanor:

  • Prohibited from obtaining a driver’s license until age 18
  • Owe up to $700 in fines
  • Community service
  • Jail time or probation
  • Increased insurance rates

A DUI conviction will remain on a person’s criminal record as well. Potential landlords or employers may see this information with a background check and refuse to rent out an apartment or offer that person a job. Drinking and driving can have devastating effects on a young person’s life.

Find answers with a lawyer

Those facing an underage drinking and driving charge can defend themselves in court. Judges may allow first-time offenders a path toward expungement through service- or education-based restitution. An attorney familiar with Minnesota DUI laws can assess one’s case, formulate a defense and work with the courts toward a resolution.