Tougher Minnesota DWI Laws Lower Threshold for Gross Misdemeanors

Minnesotans who drive drunk can expect stiffer penalties come August 1st.

Drivers found to have blood-alcohol concentrations of .16% or higher will now face gross misdemeanors – .04% lower than the previous .20% threshold. The move arrives after the state legislature passed changes.

“Hopefully, you’ll have fewer people take the serious chance of those extra few drinks,” commented state Senator Ron Latz of St. Louis Park, via the Duluth News Tribune.

New Gross Misdemeanor DWI MN Law

The new standard will increase the current maximum fine of $1,000 to $3,000 and allow for maximum jail terms of up to one year, a significant increase compared to the 90 days covered by misdemeanors.

According to the Star Tribune, upping the penalties could have a significant effect on Minnesota drivers – resulting in around 3 thousand more gross misdemeanor DWIs annually.

It’s currently estimated that every 1 out of 7 drivers on Minnesota roadways has been charged with a DWI before.

Despite such high numbers, data provided by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety via the Star Tribune shows that the number of those arrested with BAC levels between .16 and .19 has steadily decreased in recent years – dropping from 5,545 drivers in 2012 to 4,842 drivers in 2013.

The state hopes those numbers continue to fall – resulting in less vehicle crashes and most importantly, saving more lives.

In other DWI-related news, the Minnesota State Patrol recently provided preliminary statistics regarding the number of DWI-related arrests from this past July 4th weekend: 328 people were taken into custody for driving drunk.