Penalties for DWI Increase Dramatically Statewide

In August 2015, the alcohol content for a gross misdemeanor DWI will be lowered from .20 to .16. Attorney Christopher Cadem commented: “In my experience, this will dramatically affect a large number of the DWI cases I litigate. It is quite common for my clients to have an alcohol content over .16 but below a .20.” According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, almost 3 of every 5 first-time offenders will be affected by this new law.

This change harmonizes the criminal law with the implied consent license revocation statutes, which already punish more severely anyone with a .16 alcohol content. “I have been anticipating this change for years. Honestly, I expected it a long time ago,” said Cadem. The long-term impact of a DWI with an alcohol content of .16 or higher is dramatic. The maximum penalty for such individuals will increase from 90 days in jail to a full 1 year. Similarly, fines will rise from $1000 to $3000. It has been quite rare for someone with a first-time DWI to spend any time in jail for the offense. Now, jail will be more or less presumptive for anyone with an alcohol content of .16 or higher.

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