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The Facts (and Impact) of a B-Card

Any motorist who suffers a third conviction for DWI in 10 years, or a fourth in a lifetime, faces the undesirable scenario of cancellation of his or her driver’s license. While it is possible to regain your driving privileges on a restricted basis, this cannot be done without obtaining the dreaded B-Card.

Penalties for multiple DWI convictions are severe

If you have ever faced charges or a conviction for DWI in Minnesota, you are well aware that the penalties are severe. While the formal penalties can immediately turn your life upside down, the informal consequences can continue long after you have served any sentence.

These long-term consequences might include job loss, denial of promotions or raises, academic discipline, loss of or denial of professional or occupational licensing, removal or other negative immigration-related sanctions, and more. While no conviction for DWI is painless, the severity of applicable administrative and criminal penalties increases with multiple convictions.

The B-Card in Minnesota imposes strict limitations

The B-Card is a Minnesota restricted license carrying limitations that go far beyond those imposed by other states when issuing a license subject to special conditions. A motorist with a B-Card cannot consume any alcohol or controlled substance (without a prescription).

Although this form of restricted license permits a motorist to recover driving privileges following a third or subsequent DWI-related offense, the driver must successfully participate in chemical dependency treatment and a rehabilitation period.

If you are issued a B-Card, this restricted license can be cancelled even if you are not operating a motor vehicle. The abstinence condition that accompanies a B-Card even applies to such nominal amounts of alcohol as sips of wine during communion or the negligible amounts of alcohol in cough syrup.

Under a B-Card, you must abstain from alcohol and controlled substances

Because the B-Card includes a condition that the driver abstain from alcohol consumption or use of controlled substances, there are many scenarios that can lead to your B-Card being cancelled that go beyond those where you can face arrest and conviction for DWI, such as:

  • A DWI stop during which you have consumed alcohol, but your mental and physical driving faculties are not impaired
  • Officers smell alcohol on your breath when dispatched on a domestic violence call regardless of whether the basis for the call was legitimate
  • A stop that would otherwise be unlawful because the officer lacked sufficient legal basis to pull you over
  • A chemical test result of .02 percent BAC, which is one-quarter of the legal limit

These are just a few examples of the vulnerability of your driving privileges when you have a B-Card. The bottom line is that you do not need to be arrested or convicted of any crime, nor does the officer’s decision to stop you need to be lawful.

The state of Minnesota requires proof of abstinence as part of the rehabilitation process

The decision of a motorist who has been issued a B-Card license to violate the moratorium on alcohol consumption (or ingestion of controlled substances) carries significant penalties. While this form of restricted license can be reinstated, the driver must successfully participate in chemical dependency and rehabilitation again before issuance of a B-Card. Further, pursuant to Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) rules, the rehabilitation process for proof of abstinence from intoxicating substances (except for lawful drug prescriptions) must meet the following requirements:

  • First period of rehabilitation – 1 year
  • Second period of rehabilitation – 3 years
  • Third period of rehabilitation – 6 years

If you are driving while violating the prohibition on alcohol consumption while driving a motor vehicle, you will face not only administrative sanctions compliance but also exposure to a potential gross misdemeanor charge.

The impact can last for 10 years

Although it is possible to get this forced abstinence restriction removed for your license, you must abstain from the use of a controlled substance without a prescription and alcohol for a ten year period. This also means you cannot have any DWI-related incidents during this time span. The better option is to avoid a repeat conviction of DWI in the first place, so you should avoid talking to the police and immediately seek legal advice, especially if you have prior DWI convictions.

If you have been arrested for DWI, we invite you to speak to a Minnesota DWI Lawyer at Gerald Miller, P.A. as soon as possible. If you contact us immediately, we can start protecting your rights. Contact us today to schedule your free and confidential case evaluation.

About the author

Kyle Dreger

Kyle Dreger is a skilled DUI/DWI and Criminal Defense lawyer at Gerald Miller P.A. Kyle has received his law degree from the University of St. Thomas School of Law. He is also a professionally trained basketball player.


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