In 2021, there were several dramatic changes to Minnesota’s DWI laws, from updates to license reinstatement requirements to vehicle forfeiture.
Here is an overview of the most important legislative updates and how they could possibly affect your case.
License Reinstatement Requirements
One of the more important updates to Minnesota’s DWI laws in 2021 relates to license reinstatement requirements. The result? Drivers charged with a DWI have been given more opportunities to get and remain validly licensed in the state following an arrest.
DWI Testing Requirements
Drivers are no longer required to complete the “DWI written test” and the “rules of the road test” for revocations resulting from impaired driving. This reduces the burden on the driver and Minnesota Department of Public Safety. A license reinstatement fee of $680 is still in place.
Drivers are no longer required to get an SR-22 from their insurance companies to be admitted to the Ignition Interlock Program (IIP). Instead, individuals charged with a DWI in Minnesota can simply present their insurance card.
An SR-22, or Safety Responsibility, is a certificate used in almost every state to prove that a driver carries a state’s minimum requirement of liability insurance. Minnesota is one of six states that does not require an SR-22 form. However, drivers are still required to carry liability insurance.
There are a few exceptions. Individuals who have previous convictions, revocations, or license cancellations on record for failing to have insurance and proof of insurance will still be required to present an SR-22 to participate in IIP.
No More “Waiting Out” Revocation Period
Starting on August 1, 2021, drivers with multiple DWI violations are required to finish the ignition interlock program before re-licensing. This means that a license revocation period won’t even start running until a driver joins the ignition interlock program.
The new changes have an exemption to offenders who can prove that they didn’t own a vehicle during the revocation period or time of the offense. If this is the case, you have to wait for the revocation period to end without driving before you get re-licensed.
If you had a license cancellation for three years or more, you might have experienced various restrictions during the first year of the interlock program. However, the 2021 changes to the DWI laws allow you to drive anywhere, provided you’ve joined the ignition interlock program. This modification is only valid for drivers with ignition interlock devices installed on their vehicles.
Previously, the Commissioner of Public Safety would restart a new revocation if you blew more than 0.02 alcohol levels on the device. They would also require you to enroll in the ignition interlock program afresh, get a new alcohol assessment, and pay a $680 reinstatement fee. However, the 2021 updates allow you to stay enrolled in the program, but you will have to restart your sobriety clock again.
Whiskey Plate Exemptions
The “whiskey plates” were developed to make it easier for police to pick out DWI offenders on the road. The law essentially allowed the cops to pull individuals over to check whether or not they were currently driving under the influence. The 2021 amendments to the DWI law now allow DWI offenders to either keep whiskey plates or enroll in IIP. Once a driver is approved for IIP, they can remove the whiskey plate from all of the vehicles that they own. This change also benefits family members of the offender who may have the offender’s name on the title of the vehicles they drive.
Legislative updates also resulted in major changes to DWI vehicle forfeitures. Under the updated DWI law, first-time offenders are no longer at risk of vehicle forfeiture. Instead, vehicle forfeiture is only imposed on First Degree DWIs or for individuals who have received their third DWI in 10 years. In addition, the law removes “failure to appear” as the basis for vehicle forfeiture.
In addition, vehicle owners are now allowed to use their vehicles while the forfeiture action is pending. Previously, owners were required to post a bond to secure the return of their vehicles. Now, depositing the vehicle title is all that will be required.
Need Help Understanding the New DWI Laws?
DWI laws are constantly changing. That is what we are here for. The DWI attorneys at Sheridan, Dulas, Hunstad & Kins provide aggressive representation and will take your case to trial to defend you against DWI charges. With our DWI experience, we know the laws like the back of hand. Contact our office today to discuss the specific facts of your case and begin building your defense.