Halloween is fun for kids and grownups alike – albeit different kinds of fun. Halloween parties are frequently some of the best all year, and aren’t something you’ll want to miss out on. However, for this reason, Halloween is also a particularly dangerous holiday nationwide, and has even surpassed New Year’s Eve in terms of emergency room admissions. Unfortunately, much of the danger is due to drunk driving.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a whopping 43% of all US traffic fatalities on Halloween night are due to drunk driving. Further, 26% of all Halloween pedestrian fatalities involve a drunk driver. Even worse, Halloween fatalities are on the rise nationwide.
Since Halloween is one of the biggest drunk driving days of the year, law enforcement will be out in full force to catch drunk drivers this holiday. A Minnesota DWI can carry severe consequences. In order to avoid this life-changing mistake, make plans ahead of time to avoid drunk driving on Halloween.
Understanding the Minnesota DWI Laws
Due to the dangers of intoxicated driving, the Minnesota justice system takes this offense very seriously. If convicted, you face serious criminal penalties, freedom-restricting civil penalties, and a criminal record that will haunt you for years to come.
What constitutes a DWI?
Driving under the influence of alcohol, known as driving while intoxicated (DWI), is defined as driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or above. However, if you are under the legal drinking age of 21, any positive blood alcohol test results in a DWI. Further, having any amount of a Schedule I or II controlled substance in your body can result in a DWI.
The Penalties of Being Convicted of a DWI
There are four degrees of DWIs in Minnesota depending upon prior offenses and aggravating factors, which carry distinct penalties:
- Fourth-Degree DWI: If you have not had another impaired DWI violation for the past 10 years and have no other aggravating factors, you will be charged with a fourth degree DWI. This is a misdemeanor, and carries a penalty of up to 90 days in jail and a $1000 fine.
- Third-Degree DWI: If your DWI is the second impaired driving offense in 10 years, or if an aggravating factor is present, you will be charged with a third-degree DWI. This is a gross misdemeanor and is punishable by up to one year in jail and a $3000 fine.
- Second-Degree DWI: If your DWI is the third offense or second violation with an aggravating factor, you will be charged with a second-degree DWI. This is also a gross misdemeanor, and carries a sentence of 30-365 days’ imprisonment and a $3000 fine.
- First-Degree DWI: For your fourth or higher DWI offense in 10 years, you will be charged with a First-Degree DWI, which is a felony-level offense. This is punishable by up to seven years’ imprisonment and a $14000 fine.
In addition to the above criminal penalties, you are also likely to have your license suspended, and may be required to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle.
Avoid Drunk Driving by Planning Ahead
Many DWIs are a result of poor planning. Paradoxically, alcohol impairs judgement, meaning that you’re much more likely to make the decision to get behind the while impaired.
Make plans ahead of time to have a designated sober driver, or utilize a ridesharing service to get to the party. There are even apps and devices designed to help prevent drunk driving.
If you or a loved one are facing a drunk driving charge, contact an experienced Minnesota DWI attorney as soon as possible. Involving quality legal representation as early in the process as possible will make sure that your rights are protected, and maximize your chance of a favorable outcome.
About the Author:
Christopher Keyser is a Minneapolis-based criminal and DWI defense attorney known for fighting aggressively for his clients and utilizing innovative tactics to get the most positive results. He has been featured in numerous media outlets due to the breadth and depth of his knowledge, and recognized as a Minnesota Super Lawyers Rising Star (2014–2015), a Top 100 Trial Lawyer (2013–2015), and a Top 40 Under 40 Attorney (2013–2015).