I remember sometime in 2010, a 17-year old in Winona County, pleaded guilty to a careless driving charge. The car crash in southeast Minnesota killed three teenagers.
This accident was just one more case added to the alarmingly increasing number of Minnesota teen driving accidents. According to the Minnesota Office of Traffic Safety, in 2009, one of every 13 DWI cases was charged to a driver under the age of 21.
In Minnesota, a teen driver charged with DWI can potentially face thousands of dollars in legal costs and fines and up to one year in jail. A teen may experience a loss of driving privileges, and may also hold a DWI record for a minimum period of 15 years.
A DWI record may prevent a teen from gaining future employment that involves driving, and an existing record may also become much more complex if a teen is charged with future DWIs.
Basics of Minnesota Teen Driving-Related Laws
When it comes to teen drivers, there are several interrelated laws that govern DUI and DWI offenses. Here are some of these laws:
Graduated Driver’s License Law or GDL Law
Established in 1999, the GDL Law consists of a multi-tiered program that will gradually provide driving privileges to minor drivers based on their current driving record and fulfillment of the required driving experience.
Open A Bottle Law
The Open A Bottle Law prohibits any individual from possessing a vessel containing any amount of alcoholic beverage that has been opened, with the seal broken or removed, while operating a vehicle on a street or highway.
Not A Drop Law
The Not A Drop Law charges anyone under the age of 21 with a violation if found to be drinking any amount of alcohol before or while driving. Violation of this law includes the loss of one’s driver’s license for a period of up to 180 days.
Created in 2004, Vanessa’s Law prohibits an unlicensed teen charged with a DWI, Implied Consent, an Open Bottle or Not a Drop Law violation, or any other crash-related violation from applying for a driver’s license until reaching the age of 18. At this point, the provisions of GDL Law will be enforced.
Vanessa’s Law also states that a provisional license holder who may have lost driving privileges due to the above mentioned violations should first undergo a formal driver education course, fulfill all reinstatement requirements, pass the driver’s license knowledge test, obtain and maintain an instruction permit for a three-month period, and complete a behind-the-wheel driver’s class.
Other Teen Driving Restrictions
In 2008, the state of Minnesota also added the following restrictions for drivers under the age of 18:
– The use of a cell phone is prohibited while driving, including text messaging and the using the Internet.
– For the first six months of one’s driver’s license, there is to be no driving between the hours of 12 MN to 5 AM.
– For the first six months of one’s licensure, there can be no more than one passenger under the age of 20, unless an adult accompanies the driver.
– For the second six months of one’s licensure, there can be more than three passengers under the age of 20, unless an adult accompanies the driver.
The Importance of Hiring a DWI Lawyer in a Teen DWI Case
If your teen gets charged with a DWI, it’ s important for you to hire the best DWI defense lawyer you can afford to examine the case and protect the rights of the teen. Time is of the essence in DWI cases, as an attorney may be able to challenge the procedures taken by the authorities and attempt to weaken the case against the teen driver and get the best possible outcome to the case.
If you or your teen have beeb charged with DWI in the state of Minnesota, call the Kans Law Firm, LLC for a free consultation and case evaluation.