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Published: 2008-03-26

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.

If the arrested person refuses the officer's request to take a test, or takes the test and the result is 0.10% or more, the officer will revoke the person's license immediately under the terms of Minnesota Statute Section 169.123, 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.

  • First offense, driver refuses alcohol testing: one year revocation, eligible for limited license after 15 days.
  • First offense, test result between 0.10% and 0.19%: 90 day revocation, eligible for limited license after 15 days.
  • First offense, test result 0.20% or more: 180 day revocation, eligible for limited license after 30 days.
  • Second offense within five years of a prior offense, driver refuses alcohol testing: one year revocation, eligible for limited license after 6 months.
  • Second offense within five years of a prior offense, test result between 0.10% and 0.19%: 180 day revocation, eligible for limited license after 90 days.
  • Second offense within five years of a prior offense, test result 0.20% or more: one year revocation, eligible for limited license after 6 months.
  • Second offense with one prior offense more than five years old, driver refuses alcohol testing: one year revocation, eligible for limited license after 6 months.
  • Second offense with one prior offense more than five years old, test result between 0.10% and 0.19%: 90 day revocation, not eligible for limited license.
  • Second offense with one prior offense more than five years old, test result 0.20% or more: 180 day revocation, not eligible for limited license.
  • Third or fourth offenses, if there are no prior offenses within the previous five years and the driver has not had a previous "special review" with the Department of Public Safety, test result between 0.10% and 0.19%: 180 day revocation, eligible for limited license after 90 days, test result 0.20% or more: one year revocation, eligible for limited license after 6 months.

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. 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 one year's abstinence from alcohol in a third offense or three year's abstinence in a fourth offense. There is no eligibility for a limited license during a license cancellation period.

More severe consequences apply to drivers under the age of 21 and to people with commercial driver's licenses.

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 $18.50, and a reinstatement fee, currently $290.00. 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) 296-2025. Their phone line is often busy, so you have to be patient.