COMMERCIAL VEHICLE DWI PENALTIESWhat are Minnesota's DWI Penalties Involving a Commercial Vehicle?
Minnesota's DWI law sets a lower per se alcohol concentration limit for commercial vehicle operators (.04 as opposed to .08) and the implied consent law allows for a chemical test upon probable cause that the commercial vehicle driver has consumed any amount of alcohol whatsoever, also a stricter standard.
A commercial driver who violates the .04 standard is subject to a period of disqualification as mandated by federal law (one year for the first violation not involving transporting hazardous materials, lifetime disqualification for any subsequent violation) from commercial vehicle driving. The commercial licensee is still able to drive a non-commercial motor vehicle unless he or she has also violated the regular DWI law by testing .08 or higher or by driving while impaired or with any amount of certain controlled substances in the body, in which case the person would be subject to the full range of applicable penalties and sanctions of the regular DWI law.
Additionally, a commercial driver who incurs license revocation or cancellation for an impaired driving violation in a personal passenger vehicle receives no special dispensations from the sanctions and penalties that apply to other drivers - the person is prohibited from driving any type of vehicle until becoming validly relicensed to drive.
Minnesota's DWI law provides a strict standard of zero tolerance for school bus driving, making it unlawful to drive a school bus when there is any physical evidence of alcohol consumption in the person's body. In addition to criminal penalties, any DWI violation involving a driver who has a school bus endorsement will triggers the cancellation of the endorsement regardless of whether or not the DWI violation was committed while driving a school bus and, upon conviction, disqualification of the person's driving privileges for a minimum of five years. As with other non-school bus commercial vehicle DWI violations, the person would remain validly licensed to drive regular motor vehicles unless he or she also has violated the higher standards of regular DWI law.
What are the Penalties for a First-Time DWI Violation Involving an Off-Road Recreational Vehicle or Motorboat?
A violator with no qualified prior impaired driving incident is subject only to the criminal penalties (misdemeanor for a test failure, gross misdemeanor for test refusal or test above .16) and the loss of operating privileges for the type of vehicle in operation at the time of the offense.
The person is not subject to driver's license revocation, mandatory chemical dependency assessment and treatment, mandatory conditions of release, long-term monitoring, the penalty assessment fee, or license plate impoundment.
A person arrested for a DWI violation involving an off-road recreational vehicle or motorboat and who has a prior qualified impaired driving incident on record is subject to the same administrative sanctions and criminal penalties as the person would be if arrested while driving an automobile.
A special Minnesota DWI law establishes a 0.04 per se standard for alcohol concentration while flying and also criminalizes test refusal. Violation is always a gross misdemeanor.
It is also unlawful to fly within eight hours of any alcohol consumption - a zero tolerance standard, but time limited. Violation is a misdemeanor.
In practice, DWI violations involving aircraft nearly always trigger a federal prosecution; with much stiffer criminal penalties and FAA licensing consequences. Prosecution rarely occurs at the state level.
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