When it comes to underage drinking and driving, Minnesota has a strict policy. The state’s “Zero Tolerance Law,” or a “Not a Drop Law,” means that any presence of alcohol, or other illegal substances, while operating or being in control of a motor vehicle is illegal for individuals under 21.
If you’ve been charged with underage DWI, here are some things you should know:
According to Minnesota law, DWI violations require either evidence of impaired driving or an alcohol concentration of .08 or higher, or the presence of certain illegal substances in the person’s body, during or within two hours of the time of driving, operating, or being in control of a motor vehicle, broadly defined.
Those drivers under 21 are subject to additional DWI laws including the Underage Drinking Law and the aforementioned Zero Tolerance Law. The Underage Drinking Law prohibits those under 21 from consuming alcohol without parental supervision or permission, purchasing or attempting to purchase alcohol, possessing alcohol with the intent to consume, entering a bar or liquor store with the intent to buy, or misrepresenting your age to purchase alcohol.
It’s also important to know that drivers 16 and 17 years old who violate the DWI laws are under the jurisdiction of the adult court, not the juvenile court. This means these individuals are subject to the full range of adult penalties and consequences. In addition, individuals under 18 will lose their license and will not be able to apply again until after they turn 18.
For purposes of the Underage Drinking Law, a person does not attain the age of 21 until 8:00 a.m. on the day of the person’s 21st birthday. Why is this important? If you want to get the celebration started early, you’re still an underager until 8 a.m. on your birthday, so keep that in mind.
Generally, the Zero Tolerance Law provides misdemeanor penalties and driver’s license suspension for any driver under the age of 21. But, there are other possible consequences to consider:
Community service requirements
Mandatory alcohol education classes
A DWI conviction will remain on your record and could come up in background checks for housing and employment
A criminal lawyer with experience in DWI cases can help you navigate the legal system and develop an effective strategy for defending your case. Bruno Law has had many successful outcomes when representing DWI clients, and we offer free initial consultations. Request an initial consultation and we’ll be in touch!
Other articles and resources:
An Overview of Minnesota’s DWI Laws (from the Minnesota House of Representatives)