Keys next to a glass f whiskey

Driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs and alcohol is an ongoing problem in Minnesota. One in seven of the 4.7 million licensed drivers on the Minnesota roadways have a DUI on their record. According to the Minnesota Office of Traffic Safety Motor Vehicle Crash Facts for 2020, a total of 57,127 crashes occurred that year — 3,592 of those were drug or alcohol related.

Minnesota law enforcement reports suggest the number of DUI fatality crashes in Minnesota each year is relatively low compared to other states. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Traffic Safety Facts for 2019, only 86 of the 10,142 deaths attributed to alcohol-impaired driving crashes occurred in Minnesota.

Minnesota Office of Traffic Safety 2020 DUI Statistics Overview

  • 33% of all traffic deaths were alcohol-related
  • 22,653 DUI arrests made by law enforcement officers
  • 72% of DUI offenders were male
  • 73 of the 135 people who died in alcohol-related crashes were drinking
  • 10% of alcohol-related deaths were caused by drivers aged 15-34
  • 2,821 total crashes involving a drunk driver
  • 79 people died in crashes involving a drunk driver
  • 621 total crashes where the driver was under the influence of illicit drugs
  • 150 total crashes involving a driver on medications
  • 29% of DUIs occurred in the summer months (August had the most at 368 crashes)

When Is a Driver Considered to be Driving Under the Influence?

It is illegal to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances like drugs. A driver can be convicted of a DUI if they are impaired by substances like alcohol, marijuana or prescription medications (i.e., pain relievers, tranquilizers, sedatives, stimulants).

Law enforcement officers measure impairment using a variety of methods, including breathalyzers (measures blood alcohol content), field sobriety tests, blood tests and urine tests.

In Minnesota, a driver will automatically be arrested for driving under the influence if their blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.08 or higher within two hours of driving. According to Minnesota’s “Not a Drop” law, an officer can still make an arrest if they believe the driver is impaired — even if a driver’s BAC levels are below the legal limit. This rule also applies to underage drivers who are caught drinking and driving. They will face penalties under the “Not a Drop” law in addition to the state’s DUI laws.

What Are the Common Penalties for a DUI Conviction in Minnesota?

In the state of Minnesota, DUI convictions are classified as “first degree,” “second degree,” “third degree” and “fourth degree” — with first degree being the most severe.

When a driver is charged with a DUI, the severity of the degree depends on a number of aggravating factors including:

  • Prior impaired driving incidents within 10 years
  • Having a BAC of 0.16 within two hours of driving
  • Driving with a passenger under the age of 16
  • Driving with a suspended, revoked or cancelled license

If a driver is convicted of a DUI, Minnesota’s common DUI penalties often include:

  • Fines, assessment fees and various costs
  • Jail or prison sentence (ranging from 30 days to seven years)
  • Driver’s license suspension
  • Ignition interlock device (IID)

Have You Been Charged with a DUI? Consider Consulting a Minnesota DUI Lawyer

If you have recently been arrested for drunk driving and are facing DUI charges, you may benefit from seeking legal help from an experienced DUI lawyer. A DUI attorney may use a variety of potential defense strategies to reduce the severity of your charges or have your charges dismissed. Although every person charged with a crime in Minnesota is entitled to a public defender, it may be in your best interest to consult with a private practice criminal defense attorney if you have the resources to do so.

One of our referral counselors at the Minnesota Lawyer Referral and Information Service (MNLRIS) can put you in touch with a local DUI lawyer who is ready and able to represent you. Give us a call at (612) 752-6699 for more information.