The Holidays and Impaired Driving - AAA Minneapolis

The Holidays and Impaired Driving

Driving? Don’t Drink. Drinking? Don’t Drive.

Within the past 5 years, more than 3,000 DWI arrests were made during Christmas and New Year’s in Minnesota alone.

Plan ahead. If you have a Christmas or New Year’s party coming up, plan how to get home. Volunteer to be the sober driver, or reserve a cab ahead of time. The mistake that people often make is thinking they are sober enough to drive, when they actually are not. It can take 75-90 minutes or longer for the body to eliminate the alcohol contained in one standard-size drink.

In an effort to prevent Drunk Driving please consider any of the following options:

  • Hail a Cab
  • Call a Friend
  • Take the Bus
  • Designate a Sober Driver
  • Stay where you’re at
  • Buckle up – best defense against a drunk driver
  • Report drunk driving – call 911 when witnessing impaired driving behavior. Be prepared to provide a location, license plate number and observed dangerous behavior – says MN DPS.

Did You Know?

  • Last year, Minnesota had more than 3,634 alcohol related crashes that resulted in over 135 deaths1
  • Christmas ranks as the holiday with the 2nd largest proportion of drunk-driving fatalities
  • New Year’s Day ranks as the holiday with the highest proportion of serious injuries from drunk driving
  • Within the past 5 years, more than 3,050 DWI arrests were made during Christmas and New Year’s in Minnesota alone
  • Alcohol impaired drivers are involved in more than about one in three fatal crashes2
  • Most alcohol-related crashes occur on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Combined, these days accounted for 58% of the alcohol-related crashes3
  • Within the past 5 years, 36 people have been injured and 17 killed from drunk-driving crashes during Christmas in Minnesota, according to Minnesota’s Department of Public Safety
  • Also within the past 5 years, 30 people were injured and 16 were killed from drunk-driving crashes during New Year’s Day in Minnesota
  • 51% of DWI incidents in Minnesota were committed by 21-34-year-olds. (See Figure 2.01)4
  • Every 2 minutes someone is injured in a drunk driving crash5
  • Drivers who had been drinking at the .08 breath alcohol concentration had about 4 times the risk of crashing as sober drivers6

Consequences of a DWI

What Happens When You Get a DWI?

  • Impaired driving, or driving while impaired (DWI/DUI), is a serious offense in Minnesota. If you are arrested for a DWI or other alcohol-related driving offenses, you may face both criminal and administrative penalties.
  • Your penalties will vary by the number of DWI offenses you’ve committed and the severity of the violation, but you’ll typically face:
    • Thousands of dollars in fines
    • Potential jail time
    • A driver’s license suspension
    • Driving Restrictions7
  • In Minnesota, the legal blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) limit is 0.08%; however, you can be arrested and charged with a DWI for a BAC of:
    • Less than 0.08%, depending on the circumstances of the violation.
    • 0.04% if you are driving a commercial vehicle.
    • Less than 0.08% if you are underage.
  • NOTE: You can also face criminal and Minnesota DPS administrative penalties for refusing to take a BAC/breathalyzer test when stopped on suspicion of a DWI or impaired driving.8

Criminal Penalties

The penalties you face will be harsher if you have a higher BAC, if you have child in the car, or if anyone was hurt.

The criminal penalties you may face in court for a 1st offense of a DWI will vary depending on your BAC. The legal limit for a DWI is 0.08%. However a motorist can be charged with a DWI under this amount depending on the circumstances.9

  • For a BAC of under 0.16%, you will be charged with a misdemeanor and possibly face:
    • Up to 90 days in jail
    • AND/OR
    • A $1,000 fine
  • For a BAC of 0.16% or over, you will be charged with a gross misdemeanor and possibly face:
    • Up to 1 year in jail
    • AND/OR
    • A $3,000 fine
  • If you refuse to take a BAC test, you may be charged with a gross misdemeanor and face:
    • Up to 1 year in jail
    • AND/OR
    • A $3,000 fine10


Repeat Offenders

Repeat Offenders

  • For repeat DWI offenders, as well as first-time offenders arrested at 0.16 and above alcohol concentration level, must use ignition interlock in order to regain legal driving privileges or face at least one year without a driver’s license.
    • Interlock is installed in the vehicle and requires user to provide a breath sample in order to start the vehicle
  • Offenders with three or more offenses are required to use interlock for three to six years, or they will never regain driving privileges11

Sobering Up

How to Sober Up

  • Eating food won’t sober you up. Food in the stomach does not absorb alcohol, it only slows it down. All consumed alcohol will get into the blood eventually.
  • Carbonation speeds up the absorption rate of alcohol in the blood stream
  • If you’re intoxicated, drinking coffee won’t make you sober. Alcohol dissipates from the body at a rate of about .015% blood alcohol content (BAC) per hour.
  • Time is the only solution for sobering up


Alternative Transportation Options

List Of Taxi Services

*AAA Minneapolis is in no way affiliated with any of the organizations listed above nor we responsible for your service or experience. Our goal is purely to provide information and resources to make safe decisions during the holiday time period