In Minnesota, DWI and DUI are basically synonymous terms. DWI stands for Driving While Impaired. DUI means Driving Under the Influence. Some states use DUI, others DWI, and some OWI. They all basically mean the same thing – that someone was driving while under the influence or while impaired.
Minnesota uses the term DWI – Driving While Impaired. In Minnesota’s DWI statute, there are seven different clauses, or ways, a person can be charged with a DWI. The two most common are driving under the influence of alcohol and for having an alcohol concentration of .08 or more within two hours of driving. Currently, in Minnesota and most other states, the legal limit to drive is .08. That is the per se, alcohol concentration, DWI count that most people are accustomed to hearing about. The under the influence DWI count can be charged regardless of a person’s alcohol level. All the prosecutor will want to prove in that charge is that you were under the influence while driving, such as by driving conduct and field sobriety testing.
Besides alcohol DWIs, Minnesota also makes it a DWI to be driving while under the influence of a controlled substance. Also known as, driving under the influence of drugs. Currently, Minnesota does not have per se limits for controlled substances in a person’s system. While there is a charge for having any amount of a schedule I or II controlled substance in your system other than marijuana or THC while driving, the catch-all is for a prosecutor to charge under the influence of a controlled substance. Similar to the DWI under the influence charge for alcohol, prosecutors will try to prove that you were under the influence of a controlled substance based on driving conduct and observations of the arresting police officer.
It is also a DWI in Minnesota to drive while under the influence of a hazardous substance. What is the difference between a hazardous substance and a controlled substance you ask? Hazardous substances are often contained in household products like aerosol and other items that people may abuse to get high. Controlled substances are drugs, such as heroin, cocaine, amphetamines, etc.
Minnesota also makes it a DWI for a person to be under the influence of a combination of two or more of: alcohol, controlled substances, and hazardous substances. It is also a DWI in Minneapolis to be driving a commercial motor vehicle with an alcohol concentration of .04 or more. This is a big deal for drivers with a CDL as it is often a detriment to their livelihood. CDL holders that get a DWI in a regular vehicle will have their CDL disqualified for a year. On their second offense it is a ten-year disqualification.
Aside from the aforementioned seven ways to get a DWI in Minnesota, you can also get a DWI for refusing to submit to an evidentiary breath test or refusing to submit to an evidentiary blood or urine test pursuant to a search warrant. These are called DWI Refusals in Minnesota.
Also, importantly, it is not only a DWI in Minnesota for driving while impaired, it is also a DWI to be operating or being in physical control of a motor vehicle in Minnesota. Minnesota’s physical control laws cover many situations where a person is found in the driver’s seat of the vehicle, but were not actually driving at the time. They will be charged and prosecuted just the same as the cases where someone was actually driving. Talking to a DUI lawyer who knows the nuances of Minnesota’s DWI laws can be extremely helpful. DWIs can trigger a a driver’s license revocation associated with your DWI case that needs to be addressed within a certain timeframe.