How to get back on the road after a DWI arrest jeopardizes your license

A DWI arrest doesn’t have to spell the end of your driving privileges. Find out what options you may have for getting back on the road.

As you are likely aware, DWIs have serious criminal consequences. Depending on the level of offense and the circumstances involved, you could face jail time, probation and steep fines.

Yet fewer people realize that a DWI arrest can also cost you your driving privileges. In an administrative case that is separate from your criminal proceedings, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety will revoke your license for months or years.

For many, this consequence can be just as challenging - if not more so - than fines and probation. Without a license, your day-to-day life and mobility will suffer as you become forced to rely on public transportation or other people to get around.

What can you do to keep your driving privileges?

Fortunately, there are ways to keep driving after a DWI arrest. The first step is to challenge the license revocation. There are strict deadlines for this important step. If you fail to take the right legal action within 30 days after the notice of revocation, you will lose your right to challenge the revocation. This is why it is so critical to work with an experienced DWI defense attorney.

Limited license

If yours is a first offense and your alcohol concentration tested at 0.15 or lower, you can apply for a limited license so you can continue driving in your daily life. This license will allow you to drive to and from work. It will also allow you to run errands so you can meet the educational, medical and nutritional needs of your family.

The law imposes a waiting period of at least 15 days before granting this type of license. However, if you qualify, you can get this license while your criminal case is still pending.

Restricted license or "B-card"

For repeat offenders whose driver's licenses have been cancelled, a restricted license provides an opportunity to get back on the road. This license is available to those who have successfully completed rehabilitation. As a condition of the license, you must agree to abstain from alcohol in all circumstances - not just when you're driving. To qualify, you must show that you have been free from alcohol use for a time frame ranging from one to six years. Most people in this category are eligible for a limited license for work and chemical health treatment during the rehabilitation period.

Ignition interlock device

For any offense other than a first offense with an alcohol concentration of 0.15 or lower, the law makes it mandatory to install ignition interlock devices before you can get back on the road. These devices will prevent you from starting the vehicle if your alcohol concentration is .02 or greater. You can only drive a vehicle with the device installed. If you drive another vehicle or tamper with the device, you could end up facing harsher consequences at both the administrative and criminal levels.

Ignition interlock devices can involve significant expense and inconvenience. However, for many, it is well worth it to be able to continue driving, especially since there are no limits on the driving you can do while using the device. It allows for 24/7 driving and is not limited to driving for work.

Learn more about your options

Every DWI case is different. After an arrest, you should always consult with a lawyer to discuss your options for minimizing the criminal consequences and keeping your driver's license.

The experienced defense attorneys at Sheridan & Dulas, P.A., can help you take advantage of the driving opportunities available to you. Based in Eagan, they have successfully handled DWI cases across the state.