Losing Your Driving Privileges

For many people, the revocation or cancellation of your driver’s license can be one of the most difficult consequences of a DUI/DWI arrest. The State can also impound your license plates and, in some cases, seize your vehicle. An experienced DUI/DWI attorney can protect your rights and challenge your driver’s license revocation and/or vehicle forfeiture.

MN Driver’s License Revocation/Cancellation

Following an arrest for DUI, your driver’s license may be revoked or cancelled by the Minnesota Department of Motor Vehicles. In some instances, you may receive notice of the revocation or cancellation from the DMV before you are criminally charged.

You have a right to have a judicial review of your driver’s license revocation. However, you must file a petition with the court and serve notice on the proper government agencies within 30 days of receiving the notice of revocation. There is no grace period. Do not delay in contacting our office to set up a free consultation.

1st DUI Offense

If your BAC is under 0.16 and it’s your first DUI offense, your license will be revoked for 90 days. You will be eligible for a limited license (work permit) after 15 days of no driving. If your BAC is 0.16 or higher, your license will be revoked for 1 year and you are not eligible for a limited license. If you refused blood alcohol testing, your license will be revoked for 1 year. You are eligible for a limited license for the remainder of the year after 15 days of no driving.

On any first DUI offense, you can immediately restore your full driving privileges with the use of ignition interlock. However, the process to apply for and install the ignition interlock device usually takes several days at a minimum.

2nd DUI Offense

If your BAC is under 0.16 your license will be revoked for 1 year. If your BAC is 0.16 or higher, or you refuse testing, your license will be revoked for 2 years. No limited license if available with your second DUI offense.

As with a first DUI offense, you can immediately restore your full driving privileges with the use of ignition interlock. However, the process to apply for and install the ignition interlock device usually takes several days at a minimum.

3rd DUI Offense or more:

Your driver’s license will be cancelled as “inimical to public safety”. You will be eligible for a limited license with the use of ignition interlock after 30 days of no driving. Your full driving privileges may be restored after 3-6 years of proof of no sobriety from alcohol and/or drugs.

Loss of Driving Privileges for Commercial Drivers

Drivers with a class A, B, or C commercial driver’s license (CDL) and/or who operate commercial motor vehicles are also subject to disqualification of commercial driving privileges. A CDL holder or a person required to have a CDL will be disqualified for one year if he or she refuses to be tested for alcohol or drugs or is convicted of DUI while operating any type of motor vehicle. If the driver is transporting hazardous materials at the time, a three-year disqualification is imposed. A subsequent incident will result in lifetime disqualification of commercial driving privileges.

Drivers that have a class A, B, or C license and arrested for a DUI in their passenger vehicle are unable to receive a class A, B, or C work permit for the entire revocation period.

Under Age 18 and Vanessa’s Law

In May 2004, “Vanessa’s Law” went into effect, in memory of Vanessa Weiss who was killed in May 2003 just days before her 16th birthday. Vanessa had been a passenger in a vehicle driven by an unlicensed 15-year-old. Vanessa’s Law applies to drivers under 18 years of age and provides recommendations and punishments for underage alcohol-related violations.

If under 18 years of age, please contact our office or find more information here: MN Traffic Laws For Teen Drivers.

Reinstatement of your Driver’s License

To restore your driving privileges, you must:

  1. Pay a $680.00* reinstatement fee;
  2. Pass a written test with DUI related questions;
  3. Fill out a license reinstatement application and pay an $18.50* reapplication fee; and
  4. Complete any other requirements deemed necessary by the Department of Public Safety

*Presently, the reinstatement fee is $680.00 and the application fee is $18.50. However, these fees increase periodically so you should check with the Department of Motor Vehicles for current fees.

To find drivers license testing locations and hours, click here.

Limited License

You may qualify for a limited license (work permit) if your driver’s license has been revoked or suspended due to a DUI arrest or implied consent violation. Your eligibility for a limited license depends upon a number of factors including, but not limited to, blood alcohol concentration, number of prior offenses, and whether or not you took the test.

A limited license will allow you to drive:

  • To and from a job, or for a job
  • To chemical dependency treatment
  • In some cases, to a post secondary school

To qualify for a limited license, you must be currently employed. If you are a homemaker, you may be granted a limited license to provide for family necessities including education, medical care and/or food.

In Minnesota, there is a waiting period before a suspended or revoked driver can apply for a limited license. Typically, if it is your first offense and your blood alcohol concentration is under .16 then you can apply for a work permit 15 days after the expiration of your temporary license (22 days from the date of your arrest).

When you apply for a limited license you will need to turn in any existing license certificates and apply for a new license. You will also need to meet with a driving evaluator after your waiting period has passed. You will need to bring your test score sheet with you when you meet with the evaluator.

For further information contact:

Driver Evaluation 651-296-2025

Ignition Interlock

Under Minnesota law, repeat offenders and first-time offenders with a BAC of .16 or higher will be required to participate in the Ignition Interlock Program to drive legally in Minnesota while his/her license is revoked. The law also allows B-card holders to get their no alcohol use restriction lifted under certain circumstances.

An ignition interlock is a device with a camera that is installed in a vehicle to measure the driver’s alcohol concentration level. When a person blows into the device his/her alcohol concentration level is detected and a photo is taken. If alcohol is detected, the vehicle will not start. The device will also require random breath samples while the vehicle is being driven. Any time alcohol is detected during a breath sample, the device will record the violation and the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Driver and Vehicle Services (DVS) will be notified.

To participate in the Ignition Interlock Program you must submit the following materials to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety:

  • Have your insurance company complete and submit a Certificate of Insurance (SR22 Form);
  • Pass the DWI driver’s license exam;
  • Complete an application for a new driver’s license;
  • Pay a $680 reinstatement fee and submit the receipt;
  • Sign and date the Minnesota Ignition Interlock Program Participation Agreement (This is the Agreement spelling out the terms of the program. Any violation would result in license cancellation or revocation); and
  • Complete any other requirements deemed necessary by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.

After successfully submitting all application materials, Driver and Vehicle Services will send a letter authorizing the installation of the ignition interlock device with camera. You must call an approved ignition interlock vendor to schedule an installation appointment. You will also be required to attend a training session along with anyone else who will be driving the vehicle. Please note: While the ignition interlock device may be installed at any time during the process, you cannot legally drive until receiving a limited or restricted driver’s license from DVS.

The length of time you need to use the ignition interlock device depends on the number of prior offenses on your record and the length of your license revocation or cancellation period. When you receive information about the program, you should be advised of the minimum length of time that you must participate. This time period may be extended if you violate any of the program rules or if you have other driving-related problems. If you decide to quit the program before completing the time period and requirements, you will be given no credit for participation.

The costs to participate in the Minnesota Ignition Interlock Program vary by vendor but estimated costs include:

  • Installation fee—$90–$100
  • Monthly maintenance fee—$60–$125
  • Lock out fee—$50
  • Removal fee—$50

Whether the Ignition Interlock Program is worth the cost to you depends on your needs, preferences and level of offense.

Click here for more information on Minnesota’s Ignition Interlock Program and forms.

License Plate Impoundment

Under Minnesota Statute § 169A.60, the Minnesota Commissioner of Public Safety may impound license plates of vehicles for impaired driving violations when the current violation:

  • occurs within ten years of a qualified prior impaired driving violation by that person;
  • involves a blood alcohol reading of .16 or more;
  • occurs where the vehicle was also occupied by a child under the age of 16;
  • occurs while the driver’s license was cancelled for the person being inimical to public safety.

The license plate impoundment applies not only to the vehicle used in the impoundment violation, but also any vehicle owned, registered, or leased in the name of the violator. This includes vehicles owned or leased jointly with another person such as a spouse. A vehicle may also be subject to license plate impoundment if it is registered at the same address of the violater.

The arresting officer usually issues the license plate impoundment order and seizes the plates at the time of arrest. The impoundment order is effective immediately, but the arresting officer will issue a temporary vehicle permit that is valid for seven days (or 45 days if the violator is not the owner).

If the plates are not impounded at the time of the arrest, a person that is issued an impoundment notice must surrender his/her plates within seven (7) days to a Minnesota police department, sheriff or state patrol office along with a copy of the impoundment order.

The minimum term of plate impoundment is one year. During this time period, the violator may not drive any motor vehicle unless the vehicle displays specially coded plates (commonly known as “whiskey plates”) and the person has a valid license to drive. The violator is also subject to certain restrictions when selling or acquiring a vehicle during the impoundment period.

If the vehicle was not owned by the driver who was arrested, the vehicle’s registered owner may be able to have new regular license plates issued for the vehicle. The registered owner has the right to file a sworn statement with the Commissioner of Public Safety within seven (7) days of the issuance of the impoundment order setting out the facts and requesting new plates. If the statement satisfies certain basic requirements the new plates will be issued.

In addition, a person who has his/her plates impounded may ask for an administrative review at any time during the impoundment period and a judicial review within thirty (30) days of receiving the impoundment order.

Vehicle Forfeiture

The State of Minnesota can seek to impound and permanently keep your vehicle if your latest DUI violation:

  • Occurs within 10 years of at least two prior convictions
  • Is the second offense (or more) within 10 years and your blood alcohol concentration is higher than .16
  • Occurs with a blood alcohol concentration of .16 and a child is in the vehicle
  • Is your second offense (or more) and a child is in the vehicle
  • Occurs while your license has been cancelled
  • Includes fleeing a police officer

Under these circumstances, the State may keep the vehicle as long as any security interests against the vehicle are satisfied. A forfeited vehicle is then sold or kept for official use, and the owner of the vehicle does not receive any compensation.

There are many defenses to a vehicle forfeiture action. However, the vehicle’s owner must challenge the forfeiture within 60 days of receiving the forfeiture notice and, accordingly, it is imperative to contact a qualified attorney immediately. An experienced attorney may also be able to negotiate return of the vehicle with certain stipulations without the need for a court hearing.