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Minnesota DWIs are Expensive Offenses

As many individuals throughout Minnesota have found out, a DWI can have quite an effect on the bank account.

At the end of August, extra patrols were on the roads because of the latest crackdown on DWIs. From Hennepin County to Steele County, the increased patrols netted over 1,500 DWI arrests with the highest blood alcohol concentration recorded to be four times over the legal limit.

There are different degrees of severity when it comes to alleged DWIs. A first-time DWI offense can be categorized as a misdemeanor or a gross misdemeanor. The crime may be charged as a gross misdemeanor if there are any aggravating factors present. These aggravating factors include blood alcohol content over .20, refusal to submit to alcohol testing, and if there was a minor in the vehicle at the time of the alleged offense.

The criminal penalties that can result from a conviction are only part of the saga that surrounds a DWI charge in Minnesota. The cost is something that is not frequently considered, which starts with court-imposed criminal sanctions and the administrative sanction.

The criminal penalty for a first offense is up to 90 days in jail but this jail time is usually not imposed. The maximum fine is $1,000.00 but the typical fine imposed for a first offense is $300. The judge may also take into consideration the individuals’ ability to pay the fine. This requires an individualized assessment of the case since each can be different. In addition to those penalties, a chemical dependency evaluation may need to be completed, as well as any other recommendations by the court.

The administrative sanctions involve the $680 fee that must be paid for a person to get their license back. When an individual has a blood alcohol content under .16, driving privileges are lost for 90 days. The higher the blood alcohol content, the more serious the penalties will be.

DWI offenders have to apply to get their license back, take a chemical health assessment, and complete a DWI knowledge test.

Another factor that determines how much a DWI costs depends on if the arrest came as a result of a traffic stop or an accident. If it is part of an accident, then the convicted drunk driver will have to pay restitution to the victim.

Another possible penalty is the installation of the ignition interlock device on the vehicle. This is a device that will prevent the vehicle from being started unless the driver provides a passing breath sample. This device can request random tests during a single trip in the vehicle and the device is equipped with a camera to keep users from altering the results.

When this device is installed on the vehicle, the DWI offender must pay for the installation and maintenance of the device while it is in the vehicle.

Lastly, insurance rates may increase after a DWI conviction. The existing insurance company may impose a higher rate or they may cancel the policy, forcing the offender to find a policy elsewhere that is much higher in cost.

Those who pay the highest costs are repeat offenders. Repeat offenders can pay up to $14,000 in fines in addition to other DWI-related costs.