The Minnesota Legislature has recently taken new efforts in preventing drinking and driving on it’s roadways. Beginning on August 1st, the threshold for a gross misdemeanor drunk driving offense will be lowered to a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of .16 percent.

Currently, the law states that in order for a DWI to be considered aggravated, a person’s blood alcohol level needs to be .20 or higher. With the new law in place where that percentage has been lowered by .04 percent to .16, which is double the legal limit. Senator Ron Latz, the chief sponsor of the legislation says “.16 was used in the bill because it’s twice the legal limit for a misdemeanor DWI, which makes it easier to grasp.”

Even though dropping the gross misdemeanor percentage by .04 may not seem like much, law enforcement officials are happy to see this change. On average, 5,024 people a year are charged in Minnesota for driving with blood-alcohol levels between .16 and .19. This could mean more than 3,000 more gross misdemeanor DWI charges a year. Offenders will be given longer jail terms, triple fines to a $1,000 maximum, a full year of a revocation of license, and having ignition interlock system installed. Officials are hopeful this new law will make people think twice about drinking and driving.

For more information on Minnesota’s new DWI law, click here.

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