In July 2011, the legislature added “twice the legal limit” (or a blood alcohol content of 0.16) to the DWI lexicon. This distinction appears only in the civil or Implied Consent (IC) part of the DWI statute, the part that affects driver’s license revocation periods.
Prior to last July, the only meaningful BAC limits were 0.08 (a crime) and 0.20 (an aggravating factor that enhances the level of the crime and the punishment that goes with it). Until July 2011, the driver’s license revocation periods reflected those two BAC levels in the criminal law and had no specific BAC limits applicable only to the Implied Consent law.
The July 2011 changes to the DWI law enhanced the driver’s license revocation periods (but not the criminal penalties) if the BAC was at least twice the legal limit but not as high as 0.20 (i.e., 0.16-0.19). The drafting of the legislation, however, led to some inconsistencies and errors which were fixed in July 2012.
July 2012: Twice the Legal Limit
On July 1, 2012, new laws went into effect adding for the first time greater consequences for having a blood alcohol content that is twice the legal limit or more.
The first change eliminates a conflict in the law. Under the old law, someone with a BAC in that gap between 0.16 – 0.19 could have his license revoked for either one year (169A.54, subd. 5) or two years (169A.54, subd. 1(3)). The two laws were in conflict. This month’s change in the law eliminated the part of the law that required a two-year revocation period. The law is now consistent: if you have no priors and no other aggravating factors, and your BAC is between 0.16-0.19, your driver’s license will be revoked for one year.
The legislature also added a sub-part to last year’s law, thereby closing a loophole that let people with a first-time offense between 0.16 and 0.19 have their license revoked for only 30 days if they pled guilty.
Under the old law, people who were convicted of or pled guilty to DWI offenses and were under a 0.20 were “rewarded” with a reduced period of license revocation (30 days if you failed the test and 90 days if you refused to take it, instead of 90 days and one year, respectively). Presumably this encouraged plea bargains and resolved cases more quickly than if everyone went to trial.
Because of a drafting error, this reward also applied to people who pled guilty and had a BAC between 0.16 – 0.19. This year, the legislature “corrected” that unlikely reward for having a BAC of twice the legal limit by adding 169A.54, subd. 6(b)(2)(i). Now the reward does not apply to people with twice the legal limit who plead guilty. They have their license revoked for one year, instead of 30 days.
Call the Barry S. Edwards Law Office
DWI law is complicated. You need an attorney, and you need an attorney with specific experience in DWI law. Call the Barry S. Edwards Law Office if you have questions about your situation.