Thousands may face more jail time for Minnesota DWI convictions

If you are arrested for drunk driving later this year, you are more likely to go to jail than ever before, if convicted. In an effort to reduce the number of drunk driving crashes in the state, Minnesota revised a law that will send about 3,000 additional drivers to jail each year, according to the Star Tribune.

If your blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) is .08 or greater, you will be charged with a misdemeanor. If convicted, you may face up to 90 days in jail and the loss of your driver’s license for 90 days. If you had a few additional drinks before getting behind the wheel, a BAC of .2 currently bumps the charge up to a gross misdemeanor, which can lead to one year in jail and the loss of your license for one year.

Effective August 1, BAC limits for gross misdemeanor DWI charges will be lowered from .20 to .16 in Minnesota. This means that fewer drinks can impose far greater penalties on you, including:

  • More time in jail — up to one year rather than a 90-day maximum
  • Tighter bail requirements, making a DWI arrest a lot more costly if you don’t want to wait in jail until your case is resolved
  • Increased fines — from $1,000 to as high as $3,000
  • Loss of driving privileges for up to one year — up from 90 days for a regular misdemeanor conviction

The Star Tribune reported that more than half of Minnesota’s current DWI charges would be classified as gross misdemeanors in the future because of this lowered BAC limit. Now, it will be even more important to defend yourself from drunk driving charges.

The increased penalties for lower levels of intoxication are also part of an effort by lawmakers to reduce the number of repeat DWI offenders in the state. By imposing more severe penalties on those who are convicted, they hope to deter drivers from picking up their car keys the very first time they drink. Starting August 1, first-time offenders can easily end up sharing a jail cell with hardened criminals following gross misdemeanor DWI charges.

Anyone who is arrested for drunk driving deserves a solid defense to the charges he or she faces. If you are arrested for drunk driving, consult an experienced DUI/DWI defense attorney in order to avoid serious drunk driving penalties.

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