DWI laws apply equally to drivers of all ages. DWI violations require either evidence of impaired driving or an alcohol concentration of .08 or higher, or the presence of certain illegal substances in the person’s body, during or within two hours of the time of driving, operating, or being in control of a motor vehicle, broadly defined. However, two additional alcohol-related laws apply to youth under age 21.

Drivers aged 16 and 17 years old who violate the DWI laws are under the jurisdiction of the adult court, not the juvenile court. As such, they are subject to the full range of adult penalties and consequences.

The drinking age law prohibits a person who is under the age of 21 from:

  • consuming alcohol without parental permission and supervision;
  • purchasing or attempting to purchase alcohol;
  • possessing alcohol with intent to consume;
  • entering a liquor store or bar for the purpose of purchasing or consuming alcohol; or
  • misrepresenting one’s age for the purpose of purchasing alcohol.

A violation of this statute is a misdemeanor and carries a mandatory minimum fine of $100. However, it does not result in suspension of the driver’s license unless the person has used a driver’s license, Minnesota ID card, or any type of false identification to purchase or attempt to purchase alcohol (90 days suspension).

For purposes of these laws, a person does not attain the age of 21 until 8:00 a.m. on the day of the person’s 21st birthday.

CREDIT: The content of this post has been copied or adopted from An Overview of Minnesota’s DWI Laws, originally published by the Minnesota House of Representatives Research Department and written by legislative analysts Jim Cleary and Rebecca Pirius.

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