Anyone driving on Minnesota roads will soon have even more incentive to avoid drinking and driving, thanks to a change in the state’s DWI laws that is set to take effect in August. The blood alcohol level that is required for misdemeanor DWI charges will remain at 0.08, but the threshold for gross misdemeanor DWI charges will be lowered from 0.20 to 0.16, or “twice the legal limit.”
More Drivers are Likely to be charged with Gross Misdemeanor DWIs
All DWI charges can have serious consequences, but gross misdemeanor DWI charges carry even harsher penalties than ordinary misdemeanor DWI charges. The change in the blood alcohol level threshold for gross misdemeanor DWI charges could result in those harsher penalties being handed out to approximately three thousand more drivers every year, according to the Star Tribune. That analysis is based upon an assumption that the overall numbers of DWI arrests will remain steady, and that the blood alcohol levels of arrested drivers will follow a pattern that is similar to the patterns that have been recorded in recent years.
Rule Change Aimed At Repeat Offenders
Like many other rule changes, the change in the gross misdemeanor DWI blood alcohol threshold is intended to deter drivers who already have a DWI on their records from getting another one. Minnesota has the highest repeat offense rate for DWI in all of America, with approximately forty percent people with a DWI conviction already end up reoffending. According to David Bernstein, chair of the Minnesota DWI Task Force, the average blood alcohol level of a repeat DWI offender is .165. In addition to targeting repeat offenders, the rule change also targets drivers who are more likely to get into an accident while they are driving under the influence of alcohol. Accident risk rises sharply once drivers have a blood level of .15 or higher.
Penalties for Gross Misdemeanor DWI
Since the rule change will result in more drivers being charged with gross misdemeanor DWIs, it is essential that anyone driving on Minnesota roads understands what the penalties for that offense are. For example, a person who is convicted of gross misdemeanor DWI could be sentenced to a year in jail and fined up to three thousand dollars. Other possible consequences of a gross misdemeanor DWI conviction include: higher mandatory bail ($12,000.00), license suspension or ignition interlock for a year or two, harsher penalties for any subsequent DWIs, and very high automobile insurance rates. Additionally, if you get a second DWI in 10 years over the new .16 threshold, your car is also subject to forfeiture since it will be considered a 2nd Degree DWI. Forfeitures alone can be one of the harshest penalties to stem from a DWI arrest.
Every Driver Who is arrested for DWI Needs a DWI Attorney
If you have been arrested and charged with any type of Minnesota DWI offense, it is important to speak with a DWI attorney at Gerald Miller, P.A. as soon as possible. Whether you have been charged with misdemeanor DWI, gross misdemeanor DWI, or some other offense related to drinking and driving, a Minnesota DWI Attorney can help you to pursue the best possible resolution of your case. A knowledgeable and experienced DWI Attorney can give you the best possible chance at reducing the negative consequences your DWI charges as much as possible, under the circumstances. Contact a DWI Attorney today to discuss your case and learn more about how we can help you.