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Minnesota's Underage DWI PenaltiesWhat are Minnesota's Underage Drinking and Driving Laws?

Minnesota's DWI laws provide misdemeanor penalties and driver's license suspension for any driver under age 21 who is convicted of driving a motor vehicle anywhere in the state while consuming alcohol or while there is physical evidence of such consumption present in the person's body. (This law applies only to drivers, not to passengers.)

However, a violation of the zero-tolerance - underage drinking and driving - does not in itself constitute a DWI/impaired driving violation nor can it be used as an enhancing factor for any subsequent DWI violation.

What are Special Penalties for Drivers Under 21 Years of Age in Minnesota?

Minnesota DWI laws apply equally to drivers of all ages. DWI violations require either evidence of impaired driving or an alcohol concentration of .08 or higher, or the presence of certain illegal substances in the person's body, during or within two hours of the time of driving, operating or controlling a motor vehicle, broadly defined. However, two additional alcohol-related laws apply to drivers under the age of 21.

Drivers aged 16 and 17 years old who violate the DWI laws are under the jurisdiction of the adult court, not the juvenile court. Consequently, these drivers are subject to the full range of adult penalties and consequences (although 16 and 17 year old cannot be sentenced to adult incarceration facilities).

Minnesota's Under 21 law prohibits a person who is under the age of 21 from:

  • consuming alcohol without parental permission and supervision;
  • purchasing or attempting to purchase alcohol;
  • possessing alcohol with intent to consume;
  • misrepresenting one's age for the purpose of purchasing alcohol.

A violation of this statute is a misdemeanor and carries a mandatory minimum fine of $100.00. However, it does not result in the suspension of the driver's license unless the person has used a driver's license, Minnesota ID card, or any type of false identification to purchase or attempt to purchase alcohol (90 days suspension).

If you are underage or have a child under 21 charged with a DWI in Minnesota, you will want to have an experienced defense lawyer to protect your rights and help protect your future. Call me for a free Minnesota Under 21 DWI legal consultation at 612-334-3342.