Minnesota Driver's License Revocation


When a person is arrested for driving while under the influence it will usually result in both the filing of criminal charges against the person and revocation of the person's driver's license. The length of the revocation, the availability of a limited license (work permit) and the requirements for license reinstatement will vary depending on the person's prior record, whether or not they submitted to alcohol testing, and the results of the alcohol test.

Implied Consent Law

If the arrested person refuses the officer's request to take a test, or takes the test and the result is 0.08% or more, the officer will revoke the person's license immediately under the terms of Minnesota Statute §§169A.50 to 169A.53, known as the Implied Consent law. The officer will issue the driver a document entitled "Notice and Order of Revocation." If the driver had a valid license at the time if the incident, this document will also act as a seven-day temporary driver's license. The seven-day license is valid for full driving privileges until midnight on the seventh day after it was issued, not counting the day it was actually issued. The license revocation period begins when the seven-day temporary license expires.

The lengths of revocation periods under different circumstances are summarized below. Keep in mind that the term "prior offense" means not only a previous DWI conviction, but also a previous alcohol-related driver's license revocation even if the incident did not result in a DWI conviction. Also it should be noted that driving while under the influence refers not only to alcohol, but to any controlled substance.

Refuse Alcohol Testing

The first, second and third offenses of driving while under the influence and refusing to take a blood alcohol test are considered gross misdemeanors, which are subject to a $3,000 fine and are subject to mandatory sentencing under Minnesota Transportation Statutes §169A.275.

Four or more offenses are felonies and are subject to a $14,000 fine and mandatory sentencing under Minnesota Transportation Statutes §169A.275 and §169A.276.

  • First offense: one year license revocation, eligible for limited license after 15 days or full driving privileges with an ignition interlock system.
  • Second offense: two years revocation, you have the option of not driving during the suspension or driving with an ignition interlock system. License plates impounded. Vehicle forfeited.
  • Third offense: three years revocation, one year of limited license and two years of no restriction with an ignition interlock system. License cancelled. License plates impounded. Vehicle forfeited.
  • Fourth offense: four years revocation, one year of limited license and three years of no restriction with an ignition interlock system. License cancelled. License plates impounded. Vehicle forfeited.
  • Four or more offenses: six years revocation, one year of limited license and five years of no restriction with an ignition interlock system. License cancelled. License plates impounded. Vehicle forfeited.

Failed Alcohol Test

For the first offense with a blood alcohol level under .16% it is a misdemeanor, which are subject to 90 days in jail and/or $1,000 fine. For all other offenses with the exception of four or more offenses, the DWI is considered a gross misdemeanor. Four or more offenses are considered felonies.

First Offense

  • First offense, test result between 0.08% and 0.15%: 90 day revocation, eligible for limited license after 15 days: 90 days can be reduced to 30 days with a guilty plea.
  • First offense, test result 0.16% or more: one year revocation, possible restricted driving license with an ignition interlock system.

Second Offense

  • Second offense within ten years of a prior offense, test result between 0.08% and 0.15%: one year revocation , you have the option of not driving during the suspension or driving with an ignition interlock system. License plates impounded.
  • Second offense within ten years of a prior offense, test result 0.16% or more: two years revocation, you have the option of not driving during the suspension or driving with an ignition interlock system. License plates impounded. Vehicle forfeited.

Third Offense

  • Third offense: three years revocation, one year of limited license and two years of no restriction with an ignition interlock system. License cancelled. License plates impounded. Vehicle forfeited.

Fourth Offense

  • Fourth offense: four years revocation, one year of limited license and three years of no restriction with an ignition interlock system. License cancelled. License plates impounded. Vehicle forfeited.

More than Four

  • More than four offenses; six year revocation, whether the test is refused or not, you have the option of not driving during the suspension or driving with an ignition interlock system.

Reinstating Your Driver's License

  • Complete court requirements
  • Complete Department of Public Safety Requirements
  • Pay a $680 reinstatement fee.
  • Pass a DWI knowledge test.
  • Complete a Minnesota driver's license application and pay the appropriate fees.
  • Complete a chemical health assessment program.

Before a person can legally drive after a license revocation, his driver's license must be reinstated. Reinstatement does not happen automatically at the end of the revocation time period. The driver must apply to the Department of Public Safety for reinstatement. This will involve paying an application fee, currently $20.00, and a reinstatement fee, currently $680.00. It will also involve passing a special written exam regarding alcohol and drugs and their effect on driving ability, and in some cases taking the driver's license road test and providing proof of attendance at alcohol education classes.

In order to get a limited license for work purposes, the applicant must pay the fees , pass the test(s) and have an interview with a Driver's License Evaluator at a Department of Public Safety office. The fees can be paid and the test(s) taken at any time, but the interview cannot be done until enough time has passed for the applicant to be eligible for the limited license. Once a person has a limited license, no further application or fees are required to get full driving privileges reinstated. When the balance of the revocation time period has passed, the Department of Public Safety will mail a new license to the applicant.

Anyone can call the Driver Evaluation division of the Department of Public Safety to learn or confirm their requirements for reinstatement or eligibility for a limited driver's license. They can be reached during normal business hours at (651) 201-7000. Their phone line is often busy, so you have to be patient.

Reinstatement After the Second Offense

In most cases a person is required to have a "special review" with the Department of Public Safety after a second offense, so the revocation periods in the previous paragraph will not apply to most people facing a third or subsequent offense. More often, a third or subsequent offense results in the cancellation of the person's driver's license and impounding of the license plates and forfeiture of the vehicle.

A license cancellation is technically for an indefinite period of time, but a person is eligible to apply for reinstatement after certain requirements have been met. These requirements usually include proof of at least three year's abstinence from alcohol in a third offense or four to six year's abstinence in a fourth offense. There is eligibility for a one year limited license with an ignition interlock system and enrollment in a treatment program, followed by two or more years of the use of an ignition interlock restriction.

More Severe Penalties for Under Age and Children in the Vehicle

More severe consequences apply to drivers under the age of 21, and if there is a child in the vehicle. For instance, for a first offense with a blood alcohol concentration of under .16%, with a child in the vehicle is considered a gross misdemeanor and subject to having the vehicle license plates impounded. All of the penalties for driving under the influence will apply to persons underage, but there will be additional requirements.

Commercial operators

Persons with a commercial license have a higher standard when it comes to alcohol related offenses. First of all, in order to be considered over the legal limit, a commercial operator only has to have a .04% blood alcohol concentration. The penalties are more severe as well.

Conclusion

All of the above assumes there were no injuries or property damage associated with the DWI. If there were, then additional criminal penalties and administrative sanctions may apply. Needless to say, getting a DWI is serious business. The penalties and sanctions can be daunting. It would be best to seek the advice of an experienced attorney to help navigate through the statutes.