My spouse got busted for DWI – do I need W plates?
If your spouse received a notice of plate impoundment, then you will probably need W plates.
W plates are a special category of license plates in Minnesota. They are required to drive with a valid driver’s license, or limited license, during a period of license plate impoundment usually stemming from a DWI incident.
You may not need W plates if your spouse does not. For example, if your spouse was charged with a Fourth Degree Misdemeanor DWI, a first-time offense and a breath test between .08 and .15, then the plates will not be impounded. However, your spouse should receive a notice of plate impoundment for:
- A second-time DWI or test refusal within 10 years of a prior DWI conviction or revocation;
- A second-time commercial driver’s license (CDL) disqualification from a DWI or test refusal within 10 years of a prior DWI conviction or revocation;
- A DWI with a alcohol concentration of .16 or more;
- A DWI or test refusal with a child in the vehicle under the age of 16, but more than 36 months younger than the driver; or
- Driving with a driver’s license or driving privileges that have been canceled as inimical to public safety.
You may need W plates if your vehicle is jointly registered or leased with your spouse. The impoundment notice includes the vehicle used in the commission of the offense, and extends to all vehicles owned by, registered, or leased in the violator’s name, including vehicles registered jointly or leased with the violator and another. If your plates are impounded, you can request an administrative review to avoid impoundment. But you will only avoid impoundment of your plates if your spouse does not have an ownership interest in your vehicle, as the owner you were not a passenger at the time of the incident, that you know your spouse may not drive a vehicle without a valid driver’s license, and your spouse either had a valid license at the time of the incident or you filed a report with the police stating that your spouse took your vehicle or used it without your permission.
If you end up stuck with W plates on your vehicle, you will only need them for as long as your spouse is subject to plate impoundment, and thankfully no longer.