In Minnesota, what constitutes underage age drinking and driving? Seems simple enough. If you are under the age of 21, you drink alcohol, and you drive. Then, that is illegal, correct? The short answer is yes. Do not drink any alcohol and then drive a motor vehicle if you are under the age of 21. It is generally never a good idea to drink and drive, even if you are 21 or older and are under the legal limit. But if you are under the age of 21, then your margin for error is literally zero.

The law states that underage drinking and driving is a crime when “there is physical evidence of the consumption present in the person’s body.” To gather evidence for this, law enforcement officer will generally ask the person under the age of 21 to blow into a preliminary breath test (PBT). This is a handheld device that police officers use often at the side of the road to gauge a person’s blood alcohol concentration. You see it often requested in DWI investigations to aid an officer in determining whether to arrest someone on suspicion of DWI. If the PBT is above .08, then the driver is almost assuredly arrested for a DWI and taken to the local police department where they are read the Minnesota Breath Test Advisory. At that point, the driver can consult with an attorney before deciding to take the evidentiary breath test through the DataMaster device.

In underage drinking and driving cases in Minnesota, the investigation often ends right after the PBT. If it is above zero and below .08, then the officer will generally issue a citation to the driver and see if someone can pick them up. The driver’s vehicle is then impounded or, if you are lucky, left at the location of the incident to be picked up later. The citation will then be entered by the court administrator, and you will be notified of a court date. The collateral consequence of being convicted of underage drinking and driving in Minnesota is that it triggers a thirty-day driver’s license suspension. If it is the violators second conviction for underage drinking and driving, then the person will face a one-hundred-and-eighty-day license revocation. Preventing a conviction for underage drinking and driving through a stay of adjudication, continuance for dismissal, diversion, or dismissal based on pre-trial motions are some ways to keep a person’s driver’s license absent winning at trial.

If the driver was underage and they test .08 or more on the DataMaster device, then they will be subjected to the DWI penalties and not simply underage drinking and driving. There are various other ways a person can get a DWI, such as simply driving while impaired, refusing the evidentiary test, or being under the influence of a controlled substance. The civil penalties are more severe in the DWI context and the criminal penalties can also be more severe in some circumstances. For a consultation at no charge, please contact Ambrose Law Firm by calling 612-547-3199 or by email at ambroselegal@icloud.com.

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