DWI / DUI (Intoxilyzer 5000)

The typical first time DUI offender is charged with several misdemeanors and is facing jail time in some counties. Repeat DUI offenders or those with over .20 percent blood alcohol readings can face vehicle forfeiture, impoundment of license plates, and mandatory minimum jail.

First Alcohol Charge:

If your blood alcohol reading was less than .20 percent this is a misdemeanor offense.  "Driving While Impaired" means that your were driving with blood alcohol content of over .08 percent.  Because you took a test and scored over .08, your driver's license will be revoked for 90 days.  You will be eligible for a work permit to drive after 15 days with out a driver's license.  If you plead guilty to DUI on your first appearance, the state of Minnesota will return your driving privileges in thirty days, provided you retest and pay a fee of approximately $700.00.  The first offense could be a gross misdemeanor (punishable by a maximum fine of $3,000 and a maximum jail time of a year, or both) under various circumstances, which include having a child in the car or having a blood alcohol content of over .20 percent.

Second Alcohol Charge:

Before you are released from jail you will have to post $12,000 bail or enter a program  of electronic home monitoring of your blood alcohol and pay $10-$12/day for this service.  You also face license plate impoundment.

The second alcohol offense in ten years is a gross misdemeanor (maximum penalty of $3,000 and a year in jail).  The mandatory minimum sentence is usually 30 days imprisonment or eight hours of community work service for each day less than 30 days that you are in jail.  At least 48 hours of the jail time has to be served consecutively in a local correctional facility.

Third Alcohol Charge:

This will result in vehicle seizure if the offenses are within ten years.  If you have been driving while impaired within ten years of two prior offenses, the "court shall sentence" you to either: 1) a minimum of 90 days of incarceration, at least 30 days of which must be served consecutively in a local correctional facility or 2) a program of intensive supervision - intensive probation - which is to include serving at least six days consecutively in a local jail.  You will  need a chemical dependency evaluation and you will probably need alcohol treatment.

Fourth Alcohol Charge:

If you have been driving while impaired within ten years of three prior offenses, you are guilty of a felony.  The statute says that you are to be sentenced to prison for at least three years and given a fine of not less that $14,000.  If the judge decides to stay part of the three years, there is a mandatory minimum sentence of "180 days of incarceration, at least 30 of which must be served consecutively" or a program of intensive supervision (a pilot program of intensive probation for repeat DWI offenders) that requires the person to consecutively serve at least six days in jail .  The judge is also required to include an order for long term electronic monitoring.  If it is over ten years between your third and fourth charge you will be charged with a gross misdemeanor. 

Driver's License Revocation:

Since you either took a test and scored over .08 percent or refused a test, your driver's license is revoked.  That means it is taken away and you must retest, pay a fee of approximately $700.00  and wait 30 days or longer to get it back.  If you refuse to take the breath test when you are stopped, your license will be revoked for at least a year.  I you are stopped while driving and score over .08 percent on the breath test you will lose your license for

  • 90 days, or
  • six months if you are under age 21, or
  • 180 days if your drivers license was revoked in the last ten years for an alcohol related offense; or
  • if your reading on the breath test was over .20, the above periods double.

To Get Your License Reinstated You Must:

  • Take and pass the written DUI driver's license test.
  • Pay a reinstatement fee of approximately $700.00.
  • Reapply for driver's license, and pay the $18.50 reapplication fee.
  • Comply with all other requirements of Driver and Vehicle Services.  These requirements may include attending a seminar on the subject of how alcohol affects your driving; and if you have had prior offenses that may include completion of alcohol treatment.

If you have two or more alcohol offenses within five years, or three or more alcohol offenses your driver's license will be revoked for at least a year and possibly forever.  In Order to get your driver's license back you will have to complete an alcohol treatment program and provide letters from friends who will advise the state if you start drinking again.

Limited License for Driving to and from Work:

You may be eligible for a limited license which will allow you to drive to and from work.  In order to obtain a limited license, you must pass the DUI driver's test, pay the reinstatement fee, the reapplication fee, and interview with a Driver Evaluator.  There is a waiting period before you can get a limited license.

Taking The Written DUI Driver's License Test:

A copy of this chapter is reproduced from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety site.  For links to a current copy of Chapters 7 and 8 of the Minnesota Driver's Manual, click here.

Administrative Impoundment of Plates:

The Minnesota Commissioner of Public Safety is required to issue an order impounding the license plates on the vehicle you were driving and other vehicles you own when your driver's license or driving privileges are revoked under the following circumstances:

  1. As a result of having a blood alcohol test of over .20 percent,
  2. Within ten years of one prior alcohol related driving offense (conviction or prior revocation),
  3. Driving while impaired when there is a child under the age of 16 in the motor vehicle, or
  4. Other situations set forth in MS 169A.60 

If the plates are impounded you have thirty days to ask for judicial review of the impoundment.  You can seek an administrative review at any time during the effective period of an impoundment.  The administrative reviews will not be successful, unless you can clearly show that the police made a really serious mistake i.e. you were not guilty of the underlying driving violation.

"Special Registration Plates"

Once your plates have been administratively impounded you may be eligible for alcohol plates.  These plates have a series of letters which will identify your car as one which has been involved in an alcohol related offense.  They are available for a fee of $50 if you are able to get a limited license to drive to and from work.  These special plates are also available if:

  • a member of your household has a valid driver's license:
  • the registered owner of the vehicle is not the "violator" and has a valid license; or
  • the "violator" has finally been issued a valid driver's license.

You cannot get normal license plates until after one full registration year.  One full registration year means that you must wait one full year, then on the next registration date you can get regular license plates.

Contacting The Minnesota Department of Public Safety:

As you go through the process of getting your license back, you may from time to time need to call the Department of Public Safety.  Here is their web address and a list of phone numbers:

To check the status of your license go to http://www.dps.state.mn.us Scroll down and click on Driver and Vehicle Services (left side of screen).  Then click on Online Services, and Click on the circle for DL Status.  Enter your DL number and click on Get Records.

  • 651-297-3298 General Driver License Information
  • 651-296-6911 All Questions
  • 651-296-2025 Revocations - questions about effect of guilty plea - Driver Evaluation
  • 651-296-2221 DL Suspensions/FTA Fines
  • 651-296-2875 DL Test Range
  • 651-296-3279 Accident Records
  • 651-296-2015 No-Fault Compliance
  • 651-297-3402 Fax number for DL reinstatements
  • 651-296-2035 Number to call to verify if fax was received

Vehicle Forfeiture:

It only takes a second offense with a reading of over .20% to lose your vehicle.  When the car is not paid for, arrangements can sometimes be made to return it to the finance company.  If the vehicle did not belong to the driver, the owner of the car has a good chance of getting it back, but they must file a "Demand for Judicial Determination of Forfeiture of Motor Vehicle (Minn. Stat. Sec. 169.63, Subd. 8)" within thirty days of the forfeiture.  See the following section for a discussion of this process.

Your motor vehicle may be seized and kept by the state of Minnesota under either of two circumstances: 1) it was used in the commission of a "designated offense" or 2) it was used in conduct resulting in a "designated license revocation."

"Designated offense" includes:

  • driving which satisfies the definition of "first degree driving while impaired."  You are guilty of "first degree driving while impaired" if two of the following three factors are present: 1) the offense is within ten years of a prior alcohol or drug related offense; 2) your reading was over .20 percent blood alcohol content; or 3) a child under the age of 16 is in the vehicle if the child is more than 36 months younger than the offender.
  • An alcohol-related driving offense while your driving privileges have been cancelled because you are "inimical to public safety," or such an offense when it is in violation of the provisions of a restricted license.
  • An alcohol-related driving offense while subject to a driver's license restriction which provides that the person may not use or consume any alcohol or controlled substance.

"Designated license revocation" includes:

  • An alcohol-related license revocation within ten years of two prior impaired driving convictions, two prior license revocations, or a prior impaired driving conviction and a prior license revocation, based on separate incidents.

Alcohol Assessment Interview:

You will be required to have an alcohol assessment as part of the court process.  You should have an assessment done privately prior to court.  To have this done privately you should go to someone who is a psychologist, or a Certified Chemical Dependency Counselor (CCDP).  Your lawyer should be able to give you some referrals, and you should also be able to find evaluators in the yellow pages under "Alcohol Treatment."  There is a fee for an assessment.  Which may be covered by your health insurance.  If you don't have the assessment done privately, the court will charge a fee of $125.00.

The assessment may include written testing as well as an interview.  The counselor will ask for a "collateral source" to interview in order to confirm your statements.  A collateral source is someone who knows you well, such as a spouse.


The Brennan Law Office

1013 Ford Road
Minnetonka, MN 55305
Phone: 952.546.2455