Drunk Driving

Apart from any criminal penalties that may result from a DWI arrest, the law provides for three administrative sanctions, which can commence immediately upon arrest.

  1. Administrative License Revocation (ALR)– Whenever the implied consent law can be invoked during the arrest process, the person’s driver’s license can be withdrawn immediately following any test failure or test refusal. The person is given a seven-day temporary license to drive before the withdrawal becomes effective. The period of license withdrawal is as follows:
    • 90 days for a person with no qualified prior impaired driving incident within the past ten years and no other aggravating factor was present in the current incident (reducible to 30 days upon DWI conviction for a first- time offender)
    • six months, if violator is under age 21
    • 180 days, if person has had a qualified prior impaired driving incident within ten years
    • double the applicable period above, if the person was arrested with an alcohol concentration of .20 or more or while having a child under age 16 in the vehicle
    • one year, if the person refused to submit to the chemical test of blood, breath, or urine (reducible to 90 days upon DWI conviction for a first-time violation)
    • cancelled and denied indefinitely as inimical to public safety, pending treatment and rehabilitation for a third or more impaired driving incident within a ten-year period

    The person may appeal the administrative license revocation, either administratively to DPS and/or judicially through the court. (See Minn. Stat. § 169A.53 for the procedural details.)

  2. Administrative License Plate Impoundment– A plate impoundment violation is an impaired driving violation involving an aggravating factor, such as any of the following:
    • occurring within ten years of a qualified prior impaired driving violation by that person
    • involving an alcohol concentration of .20 or more
    • having a child under age 16 present in the vehicle
    • occurring while the person’s license has been cancelled for the person being inimical to public safety

    Plate impoundment applies to:

    • the vehicle used in the plate impoundment violation,
    • as well as any vehicle owned, registered, or leased in the name of the violator, whether alone or jointly.

    A plate impoundment order is issued by the arresting officer at the time of arrest and is effective immediately. The officer also seizes the plates and issues a temporary vehicle permit valid for seven days (or 45 days if the violator is not the owner).

    The minimum term of plate impoundment is one year, during which time the violator may not drive any motor vehicle unless the vehicle displays specially coded plates and the person has been validly relicensed to drive. The violator is also subject to certain restrictions when selling or acquiring a vehicle during the impoundment period.

    Specially coded license plates—signifying to law enforcement that the regular plates have been impounded for an impaired driving violation—may be issued for the vehicle(s), provided that:

    • the violator has a properly licensed substitute driver;
    • a member of the violator’s household is validly licensed;
    • the violator has been validly relicensed; or
    • the owner is not the violator and is validly licensed.

    It is a crime for a driver whose plates have been impounded to attempt to evade the plate impoundment law in certain specified ways, or for another person to enable such evasion.

    As with the driver’s license withdrawal sanction, a person incurring license plate impoundment may appeal this sanction both administratively and/or judicially through the court. (See Minn. Stat. § 169A.60 for the procedural details.)

  3. Administrative Vehicle Forfeiture– Minnesota’s DWI law provides for vehicle forfeiture for a designated license revocation or designated offense, which is typically the third DWI violation within a ten-year period, though with one or more aggravating factors, a person’s second-time or even first-time violation might qualify as well.DWI law defines “designated license revocation” as a license revocation or commercial license disqualification for an implied consent violation within ten years of two or more qualified prior impaired driving incidents. The term “designated offense” includes a DWI violation in the first or second degree or involving a person whose driver’s license is cancelled as inimical to public safety or subject to B-Card (no alcohol) restrictions.The law provides that the arresting officer may seize the vehicle and requires that the prosecuting authority serve notice to the owner(s) of the intent to forfeit. The forfeiture is conducted administratively, unless within 30 days the owner appeals the forfeiture action by filing for a judicial determination of the forfeiture.A vehicle is subject to forfeiture under this law only if:
    • it was used in the commission of a designated offense and the driver was convicted of that offense or failed to appear at trial on it, or
    • it was used in conduct resulting in a designated license revocation and the driver either fails to seek administrative or judicial review of the revocation in a timely manner or the revocation is sustained upon review.

    Other vehicles owned by the offender are not subject to forfeiture. As a protection for an owner who is not the offender, the law states that a motor vehicle is subject to forfeiture only if its owner knew or should have known of the unlawful or intended use of the vehicle.

    Following completion of forfeiture, the arresting agency may keep the vehicle for its official use. However, the security interest or lease of the financial institution, if any, is protected, and the lienholder may choose to sell the vehicle at its own foreclosure sale or agree to a sale by the arresting agency. A proportionate share of the proceeds, after deduction of certain expenses, goes to the financial institution. The law provides similar protection to any innocent co- owner, as well.

This is part of a series of posts on Minnesota’s DWI Laws.