Underage drinking is a significant problem in the United States, and it only becomes compounded when underage drinkers get behind the wheel of a car. Minnesota does not look lightly on these offenses, and even though you’re still a minor, you can end up being charged as an adult if you’re caught drinking and driving. Below, we take a closer look at underage DUIs in Minnesota and the potential penalties.
Underage Drinking and Driving Laws
Although the legal driving limit is below a 0.08 blood-alcohol content, underage persons are held to a much stricter standard because any consumption before they turn 21 is considered illegal. In Minnesota, we have what’s known as the “Not A Drop” law, which states that any person operating a vehicle with any alcohol in their system is committing a criminal offense. If an underage person is caught driving with any amount of alcohol in their system below 0.08, they will be charged under the Not a Drop law, which is a misdemeanor crime punishable by fines up to $1,000 and up to 90 days in jail. There will also be license restrictions. If the person is under 18, they will be charged as a juvenile, while older individuals will be charged in adult court.
However, the Not a Drop law will not be cited if you blow over a 0.08. Regardless of whether you’re underage or over 21, if you are over the standard legal limit, you will be charged with a DWI. Underage drivers will face the same penalties as adult DWI offenders, which includes potential jail time, fines, probation, driver’s license restrictions, vehicle forfeiture and much more. Underage drunk drivers over the age of 16 will be tried in adult court, while those younger than 15 will be heard in juvenile court. Simply put, it’s not worth it to get behind the wheel after you’ve been drinking.
If you’re convicted of underage drunk driving in Minnesota, you can expect to have your license suspended for 180 days, and you’ll only get it back after completion of a driving course and some related fees. If you’re unlicensed, you’ll face future restrictions when it comes time to apply for an instructional permit, provisional license or driver’s license.
It’s also worth noting that in Minnesota, you’re not technically considered of legal drinking age until 8:00 a.m. on your 21st birthday. Believe it or not, we’ve heard of cases where a person celebrated with a beer or two at midnight, drove to a bar to celebrate and was pulled over and arrested under the Not a Drop law even though it was technically the day of their birthday and they were still under the 0.08 legal limit. It’s an oddly specific case, but it’s worth keeping in mind if you’re going to be celebrating your 21st birthday soon.
Underage DWIs can impact your ability to get a job or get into your dream college, so make some smart decisions and don’t get behind the wheel if you’ve been drinking. Even having one beer and then driving home can have major consequences if you’re under age. If you do make a mistake, make a smart decision and hire the Appelman Law Firm to represent you.
Don’t try to pay the fines and hide it from your parents, because it won’t work, and the consequences will likely be more severe. Let us fight your case, and even if it seems cut and dry, we may be able to work with the prosecution to get the charges reduced so you don’t have a DWI on your record. You have nothing to lose by talking to us in a free case evaluation, so set that up today.