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Underage Drinking and the Minnesota State Laws

Minnesota is one of the states that take drunk driving very seriously. Like many other states, the legal limit for testing positive for a DUI or DWI in Minnesota is a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% or above. This BAC is relatively low, even if someone has imbibed in just a few drinks, he or she may test above the .08% and will be considered driving under the influence.

There is one group of individuals that face even more stringent requirements – underage drinkers.  According to a “Zero Tolerance” law passed in 1995, any individual under the age of 21 with a BAC of 0.02% can be charged with a DUI.

First time DUI or DWI convictions are considered misdemeanors. The penalties for a DUI may include possible jail time, fines, probation, and alcohol or drug treatment. However penalties for underage drinking may differ.

Penalties for underage drinking could include confiscation of the vehicle, driver’s license suspension, requirements to complete community service, mandatory attendance at alcohol educational classes, in addition to high fines, possible jail sentence and/or probation.

Any drinking on probation, as Minnesota laws state will result in a 2nd DUI MN charge and possible conviction. This could lead to far more severe charges, including a gross misdemeanor charge. In fact, a 2nd DUI MN charge could result in a year in jail, and fines up to $3,000.

Underage drinkers tend to minimize the consequences of these charges, especially in a culture that encourages young people to drink.  What seems like a one-time legal transaction could have long-term consequences to the underage drinker. For instance, a conviction of a first time or 2nd DUI MN conviction could affect college admissions. Admissions to graduate schools are frequently declined for individuals with DUI convictions, especially law, medical, teaching, or accounting programs.

Underage drinking, DUI/DWI convictions, drinking on probation or second DUI convictions carry serious repercussions to an individual’s life. Many states share information related to DUI or DWI charges. For instance, an underage student convicted of a DUI in Minnesota could be charged with a 2nd DUI in MN if that individual is stopped for drinking in Wisconsin, Iowa, North or South Dakota.

It’s very important to provide a strong defense for underage drinking charges. While it’s always important to seek the advice of an attorney for any DUI/DWI charge, underage drinking can affect the college and career options for these young people.

An unfortunate and thoughtless mistake shouldn’t have the ability to completely change a person’s life. With the right help from a skilled attorney, you may be able to minimize the charges or penalties, and quickly recover from this mistake.