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DWI-DUI Law – Civil

When an individual is charged with a Minnesota DWI, not only will they face the criminal charges that are punishable by both jail time and fines, but the state of Minnesota also imposes civil penalties. It is important to understand the distinction between the criminal and the civil penalties, as they are both entirely independent of the other. Even when an individual successfully defends a criminal Minnesota DWI charge, the Department of Public safety continues to impose civil penalties on the driver. The most common type of civil penalty imposed in Minnesota is driver’s license revocation. Minnesota DWI laws also provide for the license plate impoundment of all vehicles of record owned by an impaired driver. In some circumstances, repeat Minnesota DWI offenders can and even expect vehicle forfeiture.NOTE: THE CIVIL AND CRIMINAL MATTERS ARE SEPARATE ACTIONS AND UNRELATED – A SEPARATE CIVIL ACTION MUST BE BROUGHT. THERE IS A TIME LIMIT (USUALLY 30 DAYS) FOR CONTESTING LICENSE REVOCATION OR VEHICLE FORFEITURE. (A lawyer with the experience and knowledge to fight both the criminal charge and the civil penalties should be consulted as soon as possible after your arrest to avoid losing the opportunity to contest the civil penalties!)MINNESOTA DRIVERS LICENSE PENALTIES
The state of Minnesota, through legislation, has taken affirmative steps to ensure that drivers operate their vehicles in a safe and responsible manner. Through the Department of Public Safety, remedial action to induce positive behavioral change in drunk drivers in Minnesota results in more than 30,000 drivers losing their driving privileges each year. A first-time Minnesota DWI offender can generally expect a driver’s license revocation for a period of 90 days. However, if a first-time offender is over twice the legal limit the revocation period is 1 year. A second-time offender can generally expect to have their Minnesota driver’s license revoked for a minimum 1 year period and 2 years if over twice the legal limit. These revocation periods increase for each successive DWI violation. There are other factors that will effectively double this period (i.e. driver under 21 years of age, test refusal, or having a passenger in the vehicle under 16 years of age).In addition to the Minnesota driver’s license revocation, to be reinstated the offender must pass an alcohol/controlled substance-related knowledge test; apply for a new Minnesota license; and pay a $680 reinstatement fee. If there are qualified prior impaired driving incidents that are over 10 years old a special review or rehabilitation may be required.

Minnesota DWI laws provide for license plate impoundment and registration cancellation when a person is charged with a Minnesota DWI offense. Plate impoundment is an administrative sanction and can be imposed immediately, usually at the time of arrest.

Under Minnesota Statute section 169A.60, Minnesota DWI laws provide that the Commissioner of Public Safety can issue a registration plate impoundment order when the following conditions occur:

1. First alcohol or controlled substance incident AND one of the following:
• BAC reading of .16 percent or more, or
• There is a passenger in the vehicle under the age of 16.

2. One or more qualified prior impaired driving violations within the previous 10 years.

If the arrest is for the crime of DAC/IPS (DRIVING AFTER CANCELLATION after having been declared by the Department of Public Safety (the DPS) on the basis of prior DWI violations as being INIMICAL TO PUBLIC SAFETY).

The impoundment period is for a minimum of one year and until the date of the next annual registration, or until the person subject to the impoundment order is validly re-licensed to drive, whichever is longer.