Changes to Minnesota DWI Laws Likely
A bill is moving its way through the Minnesota Legislature that contains important updates to Minnesota’s DWI laws.
- Lower aggravating factor threshold. Currently, there are four aggravating factors that enhance the severity of a DWI offense. These include prior DWI convictions or license revocations, having children under the age of 16 in the vehicle, test refusal, or having a blood-alcohol concentration at or above .20. The bill proposes to lower the .20 blood-alcohol threshold down to .16.
- Immediate release of preliminary screening results. In most cases, when someone is pulled over on suspicion of driving while impaired, the officer administers a preliminary screening/breath test (PBT) for alcohol on the side of the road. The results of this test are generally not made immediately available to the driver, and if they are, it can take weeks to receive the results upon request. The bill proposes to make these results available immediately upon request.
- Changes to ignition interlock program.
- The bill proposes that vehicles operated by people who enter the ignition interlock program are not subject to forfeiture laws.
- The bill proposes that indigent ignition interlock program participants submit a sworn statement regarding their indigency.
- The bill proposes that ignition interlock crimes cannot be made petty misdemeanor payable offenses.
- Uniform defenses. The bill proposes that the same defenses allowed in criminal proceedings may also be asserted in driver’s license revocation proceedings stemming from DWI charges.
- Necessity defense. The bill addresses an issue that emerged from a well-publicized case involving a woman who received a DWI for driving while impaired while fleeing her violent and abusive husband. The bill allows for the defense of necessity in DWI cases and in the collateral license revocation proceedings, which permits one to break the law, but only if necessary to prevent greater harm.
If you have any questions about these proposed changes to the law, please contact one of our criminal defense attorneys for a free consultation at 763-421-6366.