The state of Minnesota has increased its penalties relating to a mid-level DUI conviction. The tougher penalties will go into effect this August and they could change how thousands of people are punished for the offense each year.

At this time, a blood-alcohol concentration that tests at 0.16 percent will qualify a driver for gross misdemeanor drunk driving. This is double the limit for a normal misdemeanor DUI and 0.04 points below the amount for seriously impaired driving.

Lowering the gross misdemeanor percentage amount like this could end in 3,000 additional gross misdemeanor DUIs each year. That is an increase of 71 percent. As a result, the change will also expose approximately 3,000 more people to the threat of spending up to a year in jail and the maximum fine will be tripled up to $3,000 for these people as well. In addition, judges will be able to use higher bail penalties and insurance companies will able to hike up their rates higher for convicted individuals.

Believe it or not, one out of seven Minnesota drivers has at least one intoxicated driving offense on his or her record. These drivers, who are arrested a second time, tend to have — on average — a blood alcohol concentration of 0.165, meaning that a lot of second-offense DUI drivers will be especially affected by this change.

Still, no driver accused of DUI will ever be convicted or punished for the crime until — and only if — the driver is found to be guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a proper court of law. Until that moment, criminal defense options will be available for the accused.

Source: Duluth News Tribune, “Minnesota stiffens penalties for mid-level DWIs,” accessed June 26, 2015