Minneapolis DWI lawyers are likely to see an uptick in business starting in August as stiffer penalties for certain DWI offenses go into effect. Right now anyone caught with a blood alcohol level of 0.16 is charged with a misdemeanor and risks 90 days in jail and a $1000 fine. The gross misdemeanor charge, which leaves a defendant vulnerable to a 1-year jail term and a fine that is three times more expensive, is triggered by a blood alcohol level of 0.20. In August, the gross misdemeanor charge trigger drops to the 0.16 level. This stricter charge will also mean a higher bail for anyone arrested, and higher administrative penalties for the convicted. First-time offenders charged at or above 0.16 will get an ignition interlock (a device that keeps your car from starting if you have a blood alcohol level of 0.02 or higher.) If the charge is severe, the accused might lose driving privileges from 1 to 2 years.
Senator Ron Latz, DFL-St. Louis Park, chief sponsor of the bill in the Senate, says that a person’s risk for an accident increases once their blood alcohol level passes 0.15, but they picked 0.16 because that is double the legal limit, and therefore easy to remember.
Many people got DWI’s when their blood alcohol level was close to double the legal limit. In fact, according to the Minnesota Office of Traffic Safety, the average level for an arrest is 0.15. Some 5,000 people per year were charged with DWI’s when their blood alcohol level is between 0.16 and 0.19 over the past 3 years. If that average holds, a lot more people will be facing gross misdemeanor charges. If you are in this category, you need a good lawyer. Remember that you have a right to representation, and contact us for help before these new punitive charges damage your life.