Posted: August 6, 2015
Welcome to the first installment of the Sieben Edmunds DWI Blog Series! We’ll explore various aspects of DWI law in Minnesota in a series of weekly posts.
Think twice before drinking and getting behind the wheel after August 1, 2015. The Minnesota legislature recently changed the law regarding “aggravating factors” for DWIs. The presence of an aggravating factor can make a DWI charge more serious. The new law makes driving with an alcohol concentration of .16 or more, measured within two hours of the time of driving, operating, or being in physical control of a motor vehicle, an aggravating factor.
Under the old law, a first time offense with an alcohol concentration of less than .20 and without an aggravating factor would only trigger a fourth-degree DWI. A fourth-degree DWI is a misdemeanor punishable by not more 90 days in jail, a fine of not more than $1,000, or both.
Under the new law, Minnesotans face serious consequences as a result of the lower alcohol concentration threshold. Now an alcohol concentration of .16 or more carries a penalty of up to one year in jail, up to $3,000 in fines, or both. While the goal of the new law is to make the roads safer, more people could end up getting enhanced DWIs. According to research conducted by the Star Tribune, the .04 percentage point decrease “could result in nearly 3,000 more gross misdemeanor DWIs a year if the average numbers for the past few years hold–a 71 percent increase.”
What does this mean for Minnesotans? Even if it’s your first time DWI (a 4th degree misdemeanor), the lower alcohol concentration could mean that you’re charged with a 3rd degree gross misdemeanor. This lower limit is likely to subject many more people to added fines, jail time, electronic alcohol monitoring, loss of driving privileges, whiskey plates, and more. Getting a DWI also has long-term effects such as higher insurance rates and difficulty obtaining or keeping employment.
If you are charged with a DWI, you will want an experienced attorney on your side. Contact the attorneys at Sieben Edmunds PLLC at 651-994-6744 for more information.
Stay tuned for the next installment in this DWI blog series.