Mid-level DWIs, which are those prosecuted with a gross misdemeanor in Minnesota, used to have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.2. Today, that has changed. A BAC of .16 is enough to land you with a gross misdemeanor DWI charge.
While that 0.4 percent difference doesn't seem significant, it really is. It's believed that it could lead to around 3,000 more gross misdemeanor DWIs in a single year than if the level had stayed the same. That 71 percent increase could cause significant problems for some.
Penalties for a gross misdemeanor DWI include a $3,000 maximum fine, the potential for a one-year term in jail, can result in higher insurance rates and may raise bail and the cost of legal representation. On second or subsequent DWIs, you could face much stricter penalties than in years prior.
When you have a BAC of .15 or higher, the likelihood of getting into an accident goes up significantly. Why is .16 the limit, then, if .15 is dangerous enough to draw concerns? It is twice the legal limit, which is easy to remember.
In 2012, 2013 and 2014, there were an average or 5,024 people charged for having a BAC of .16 to .19. Around six of 10 were first-time offenders. Minnesota officials wanted to reduce risk-taking by lowering the limit for a gross misdemeanor because Minnesota has the highest DWI re-offense rate in the entire United States.
It's true that a one-time mistake shouldn't cause you to miss out on a year of your life or to face heavy fines and penalties. Your defense attorney can help you fight the charges, so you can minimize the fees you pay and potentially have the charges dropped. Our website has more information on DWIs and what to expect in court.