Minnesota has zero tolerance for drinking and driving among people under 21 years old. In fact, state laws impose stricter penalties on underage drivers than it does on adult drivers who have consumed alcohol. Among the laws concerning underage drinking and driving are “Not A Drop Law” and “Vanessa’s Law.”
Has your child been arrested for underage drinking and driving in Minnesota? There is so much on the line when a young person is accused of this offense. However, you are not out of options. Get the help of defense attorney Jeff Dean, an experienced lawyer who has successfully protected many clients from underage drinking and driving charges. Call Jeff Dean at (612) 805-6916.
“Not A Drop Law”: Penalties for Drinking and Driving Under 21 in Minnesota
Consuming alcohol is against the law for persons under 21 years of age, that’s why Minnesota has zero tolerance for under-21 drivers who have alcohol in their system. Under the state’s driving under the influence (DUI) laws, adults age 21 and older cannot drive if their blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.08 percent. But for under-21 drivers, any blood alcohol content, even if it’s far less than 0.08, is prohibited.
This is stated in Minnesota Statute § 169A.33, commonly known as “Not A Drop Law.” A violation of this statute is a misdemeanor, punishable with:
- Jail time of up to 90 days
- Fines of up to $1,000
- License suspension for 30 days or more, with no limited license or work permit to drive
- Community service
- Alcohol education classes
- Alcohol treatment program.
A judge may impose more severe penalties if there are enhancing factors such as if the underage person had a BAC of 0.08 or higher, if they had a prior conviction of DUI, or if they were found to have a controlled substance in their body.
Though this law concerns underage drinkers, a person who is at least 16 years old will face prosecution in adult court, not juvenile court. Meanwhile, those who are younger than 16 are tried in juvenile court for a “major traffic offense.” In either case, a strong defense is crucial to prevent the impact of these charges in the young person’s life.
“Vanessa’s Law”: Penalties for Drinking and Driving Under 18 in Minnesota
Besides the strict underage DUI law, Minnesota also imposes “Vanessa’s Law” on drivers under 18 years of age. Intending to further discourage minors from drinking and driving, this law was enacted in response to the death of 15-year-old Vanessa Weiss in 2003. Vanessa was killed in a crash as a passenger in a vehicle driven by an unlicensed 15-year-old.
Vanessa’s Law imposes the following restrictions and punishments:
- If an unlicensed driver under 18 years old gets a crash-related violation, they cannot get a driver’s license, not even a provisional license or an instruction permit, until they turn 18.
- If an unlicensed driver under 18 years old gets a violation related to alcohol or controlled substances, they cannot get a driver’s license, not even a provisional license or an instruction permit, until they turn 18. Violations related to alcohol include underage drinking and driving, as well as “open bottle” violations. An “open bottle” violation refers to driving while an open container of alcohol is in the vehicle, even if the driver has a BAC of 0.00.
- If a driver under 18 years old with a provisional license gets a violation related to alcohol or controlled substances, they will lose their provisional license until they turn 18.
The offender’s license will not be automatically available once they turn 18. Unlicensed teen offenders must first:
- Pay a $680 fine/reinstatement fee
- Pass the driver’s license knowledge exam
- Obtain an instruction permit and keep it for at least six months
- Pass the road exam.
Provisionally licensed teen offenders must do the following before regaining their license:
- Pay a maximum of $680 fine/reinstatement fee
- Complete the classroom portion of a formal driver education course
- Obtain an instruction permit and keep it for three months
- Complete six hours of a behind-the-wheel driver’s class.
These Vanessa law penalties may be enforced in addition to underage DUI penalties. This makes it all the more important for minors and their parents to get the help of an experienced DWI attorney to handle their case. .
Contact Underage DWI attorney Jeff Dean
Minnesota law against underage drinking and driving may be strict and complicated, but Attorney Jeff Dean has had extensive experience navigating it. In his 26 years of service, he has had numerous DUI/DWI charges dismissed or reduced and has negotiated highly favorable results for his clients.
Talk to Jeff Dean about your child’s underage DUI charges. Call (612) 805-6916 today.