Minnesota Whiskey Plates for DUI: What You Need to Know

If you’ve been driving on Minnesota roadways for a while now, you’ve probably noticed them – the plain-looking license plates with white backgrounds and blue fonts. These special registration plates are distinguished from others because their numbers start with a “W” – something that has earned them the nickname “whiskey” plates. They’re commonly displayed on vehicles where the driver was involved in a DUI-related incident.

What’s the purpose of whiskey plates?

Some drivers may find having whiskey plates embarrassing. However, law enforcement likely utilizes them to help their officers identify drivers who may be more susceptible to drinking and driving again.

In what instances may a driver be required to display a whiskey plate?

A court may order the defendant’s license plate impounded in the following instances, requiring the driver to register for a “whiskey plate”:

  • The second driving impaired violation within 10 years.
  • Having a BAC twice the legal limit.
  • Having a child younger than 16 in the vehicle while driving impaired – in instances where the child is at least 3 years younger than the driver.

How do you apply for a whiskey plate?

Registration is done via a state Motor Vehicle office, or the defendant may apply by mail. Registrants will need to at least have a valid driver’s license, or have been granted a limited license.

If a driver has a whiskey plate, can they operate another vehicle without one?

No. Whiskey plate laws in Minnesota require drivers are required to register all vehicles they plan to operate with whiskey plates. Additionally, drivers may not use a new car without first attaching a registered whiskey plate.

How long are drivers subject to displaying these plates?

Starting at the time of the incident, drivers who have received a whiskey plate are required to display it for at least one year. However, certain instances may require that the driver display the plate for even longer.