The Minnesota Legislature has had enough of high blood alcohol DWI charges and is amending the law this August. DWI laws are toughening up and making it easier for severely-impaired drunk drivers to be charged with gross misdemeanor level offenses.
New DWI/DUI Law Changes
Currently, drunk drivers charged with a Blood-Alcohol Concentration between .08 and .20 receive a 4th degree DWI misdemeanor and could serve up to 90 days in jail and/or lose their driver’s license for 90 days. If you are arrested driving with a BAC of .20 or above, you are charged with a gross misdemeanor, a much harsher offense.
But starting this August, the requirements for a gross misdemeanor DWI offense will be lowered to a BAC of .16. Anyone arrested under the new law could serve up to a year in jail and/or lose their driver’s license for a year for a DWI with a blood-alcohol concentration .16 or above.
Dropping the BAC threshold from .20 to .16 may not seem like a big change but it has the potential to result in 3,000 additional gross misdemeanor DWI charges per year.
Those opposed to this new decision by the Minnesota Legislature say that with the 3,000 extra people filling up beds in the Minnesota jail systems and stiffer bails, the new changes could be costly.
Supporters say that the new laws are worth it because they will save lives and reduce the number of high-level BAC drivers who drive seriously impaired and lead to fatal crashes. The stricter penalties may also reduce the amount of DUI re-offenders. In Minnesota alone, one in every seven licensed drivers has at least one Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) offense. Further, more than 40% of those arrested for DUIs are repeat offenders in Minnesota.
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