Minnesota Drunk Driving Laws

When is a Driver Considered to be Legally Drunk in Minnesota?

  • Non-commercial drivers age 21+ are considered legally drunk when their blood alcohol level is .08 or more.
  • Drivers of commercial vehicles are legally drunk when their blood alcohol concentration is .04 percent or greater. In Minnesota, school bus drivers are commercial drivers.
  • Drivers under 21 are legally drunk when their blood alcohol level is .02 or greater.

Penalties for Drunk Driving in Minnesota

  • First-time offenders face up to 90 days in prison, a fine of up to $1,000, or both. The offender’s driver’s license will be revoked for at least 30 days. If, however, the offender was driving with a BAC of .20 or more or if a child under 16 was in the vehicle at the time of the offense, the offender may be imprisoned for up to one year and fined up to $3,000.
  • Those who commit a second offense within 10 years of the first conviction face up to 90 days in prison, a fine of up to $1,000, or both. At a minimum, the offender must serve a term of imprisonment of 30 days or perform eight hours of community service work for each day less than 30 days that the person is ordered to serve. The offender’s driver’s license will be revoked for at least 180 days. If, however, the offender was driving with a BAC of .20 or more or if a child under 16 was in the vehicle at the time of the offense, the offender may be imprisoned for up to one year and fined up to $3,000.
  • Those who commit a third DWI within 10 years of the prior convictions may be imprisoned for up to one year and fined up to $3,000. At a minimum, the offender must serve a term of imprisonment of 90 days or a program of intensive supervision in the pilot program of intensive probation for repeat DWI offenders that requires the offender to serve at least six days in a local correctional facility. The offender’s driver’s license will be revoked for at least one year. If, however, the offender was driving with a BAC of .20 or more or if a child under 16 was in the vehicle at the time of the offense, the offender may be imprisoned for more than one year.
  • A person who commits a fourth offense within 10 years faces three to seven years in prison and a fine of up to $14,000. The driver’s license revocation period is at least two years.

Additional Driver’s License Revocation Periods

  • If a DUI results in personal injury or death to another person, the offender’s driver’s license will be revoked for an additional 90 days.
  • If the offender committed the DUI while driving with a BAC of .20 or more, the offender’s driver’s license will be revoked for twice the period of time it would have otherwise been revoked.

Ignition Interlock

In Minnesota, a person who has been convicted of DUI a second or subsequent time within a 10-year period may be ordered to use an ignition interlock system for a minimum of 30 days for each year of probation ordered.

Drivers Under 21

Underage drinking and driving is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in prison, a fine of up to $1,000, or both. The driver’s license suspension period is 30 days for a first offense and 180 days for a second or subsequent offense.

Commercial Drivers

In addition to other penalties associated with Minnesota’s DUI laws, a commercial driver convicted of DUI for the first time while driving any vehicle will be disqualified from driving a commercial vehicle for one year. If, however, the driver was transporting hazardous material at the time of the violation, the disqualification period is three years. A commercial driver who commits a second DUI while operating any vehicle will be disqualified from driving a commercial vehicle for life, which may or may not be reduced to a period of 10 years.

School Bus or Head Start Bus Drivers

In Minnesota, it is a crime for any person to drive any class of school bus or Head Start bus when there is physical evidence of alcohol consumption present in the person’s body. A driver is guilty of “gross misdemeanor alcohol-related school bus or Head Start bus driving” if the violation occurred while a child under 16 was in the vehicle, while a child more than 36 months younger than the driver was in the bus, or where the driver had a previous DUI conviction within 10 years. A gross misdemeanor is punishable by a fine of up to $3,000. The offender may also face up to one year in prison. If none of the circumstances was present to make the offense a gross misdemeanor, the driver is guilty of a misdemeanor alcohol-related school bus or Head Start bus driving. Misdemeanors are punishable by up to 90 days in prison, a fine of up to $1,000, or both. A school bus driver who has been convicted of driving a school bus while impaired will lose his or her school bus commercial driver’s license endorsement for five years.

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What is Minnesota’s Civil Liability Act?

Under Minnesota law, a spouse, child, parent, guardian, employer, or other person injured by an intoxicated person has a claim for damages against the drinking establishment that caused the intoxication by illegally selling alcoholic beverages to an obviously intoxicated person or to a person under 21. This law requires that suit must be filed within two years after the injury. Additionally, written notice to the defendant must be given within 240 days after the plaintiff enters into an attorney-client relationship for the purpose of pursuing a claim under this law. If notice is not given, the claim may not be brought. The written notice must state: (1) the time and date when and the person to whom alcohol was sold; (2) the name and address of the person or persons who were injured; and (3) the approximate time and date and the place where the injury to the person occurred. A substantially material error in the notice may void its effect.

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What is Minnesota’s Social Host Liability Act?

Under Minnesota law, a spouse, child, parent, guardian, employer, or other person injured by an intoxicated person under 21 has a claim for damages against the person 21 or older who either furnished alcohol to the minor or who had control over the premises and knowingly or recklessly permitted the minor to drink alcohol. Under this law, an intoxicated person under 21 who caused the injury is not permitted to file suit.

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What is Minnesota’s Liquor Liability Insurance Statute?

Under this statute, licensed drinking establishments are required to carry at least $50,000 of insurance coverage for bodily injury to any one person in any one occurrence; $100,000 for bodily injury to two or more persons in any one occurrence; $10,000 for property damage in any one occurrence; $50,000 for loss of means of support of any one person in any one occurrence; and $100,000 for loss of means of support of two or more persons in any one occurrence. An annual aggregate policy limit for dram shop insurance of at least $300,000 per policy year may be included in the policy provisions.

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Criminal Penalties for Selling or Furnishing Alcohol to a Minor

In Minnesota, it is a crime to sell or furnish alcohol to a minor. A first-time offender faces up to 90 days in prison, a fine of up to $1,000, or both. Offenders who commit a second violation face a fine of up to $3,000, and may be sent to prison for up to one year. If, however, a private person furnishes alcohol to a minor and the minor becomes intoxicated and dies or is injured, the person who furnished the alcohol may be imprisoned for more than one year.

Need more information on state laws? Learn more about the laws where you live.

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Note: Our attorneys are licensed to practice law in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Maryland, and Virginia. This information is not intended to solicit clients for matters outside of the states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland, and Virginia, although if you are injured in an accident, we have relationships with other personal injury attorneys and lawyers throughout the United States.

Please note: All of our lawyers are licensed to practice in the state of Pennsylvania. We also have lawyers licensed to practice in Ohio, and West Virginia and we associate with experienced attorneys in other states.

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