DWI Plate Impoundment or Will I Need to Get Whiskey Plates?

The state of Minnesota has the right to take the license plates from a motor vehicle and destroy them, depending upon the situation, as outlined by Minnesota Statute 169A.60. This is called “license plate impoundment” and is an action that occurs frequently in DWI cases. Anyone who has experienced this knows that license plate impoundment can be very frustrating and it is expensive. Defendants do have the right to request a judicial review of their plate impoundment. This is something that needs to be taken on by an experienced Minnesota DWI lawyer because the petition must be filled out correctly and must be submitted within 60 days after receipt of the order of impoundment.

Qualifying Incidents

In order to have to obtain whiskey plates, a qualifying incident must have occurred. They include:

  • The commission of any DWI offense with a blood alcohol concentration of .16 or more, as measured by blood, urine, or breathalyzer
  • Test refusal within ten years of a preceding DWI offense
  • Committing a DWI offense or test refusal while a child under 16 years of age is present in the vehicle.
  • Committing a DWI after license revocation, cancellation, or suspension
  • Committing a DWI offense as a commercial driver with a BAC of .04 or above within ten years of a previous DWI conviction

If you are required to have whiskey plates on your car, you should expect to be watched more closely by law enforcement when you are on the roads. What law enforcement can’t do is simply pull you over to check your lawful status. This act was deemed unconstitutional by the Minnesota Supreme Court in 2003 and you should speak to your Minnesota DWI attorney if you experience such a violation.

The Impoundment Process

As you can see from the above, plates can be impounded in cases of misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor or felony DWI. In fact, the case could actually be that of a first time offender, but he or she may have had one or more aggravating factors in play at the time of the arrest.

Regardless of what caused the impoundment, it usually begins with the arresting officer issuing an impound order to the individual being arrested. In addition to the impound order, a temporary licensing permit for the vehicle is issued. The permit is only valid for 7 days if the arrested individual is the vehicle’s owner. If the vehicle is owned by someone else, the permit is valid for 45 days. This allows operation of the vehicle during the permit period. The impoundment period then lasts for one year. At the end of this year, new plates can be acquired for the vehicle.

Costs Of Impoundment

If the driver of the vehicle applies for a limited driver’s license, it is possible to purchase temporary license plates if there is someone in the household with a valid driver’s license or if there is a licensed substitute driver to drive the vehicle. The temporary plates have the letters “WX” or “WY” in them, which is why they are referred to as “whiskey plates.”

Another expense that an individual has to face is the fact that the plates to every vehicle that the driver owns will also be impounded. Impoundment can also affect the ability to sell the vehicle. Minnesota Statute section 169A.60 subdivision 14 says a vehicle cannot be transferred or sold while it has whiskey plates or is impounded unless certain restrictive circumstances are met. If a person does not comply with the impoundment order, Statute 169A.37 says that an individual can be charged with additional crimes.

Fortunately, there are many circumstances in which your Minnesota DWI attorney can challenge impoundment through a Petition for Judicial Review.

Contact Minnesota DUI Attorney F. T. Sessoms:

If you are dealing with license plate impoundment, you are most likely confused, frustrated, and you are wondering what to do next. Contact MN DUI Attorney F.T. Sessoms at 612-344-1505 to learn more about this process and find out what can be done on your behalf.