Minnesota has recently introduced a bill which will take a driver’s license away after a fifth DWI offense. According to Rep. Dario Anselmo, the shocking story of Danny Lee Bettcher, of New York Mills, is what inspired the proposal. In October 2017, Bettcher was charged with his 28th DWI. The proposed bill would build on already steep fines and penalties faced by Minnesotans who are convicted of driving while intoxicated.
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Repeat DWI Offenders Face Harsher Penalties
State lawmakers plan to crack down on drunk drivers with repeated DWI charges to reduce the high number of fatal car crashes on Minnesota roads. According to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration report, approximately 25,000 Minnesota drivers had five or more DWI offenses in 2014. Minnesota’s rate of repeat DWI offenders is one of the highest in the country.
Currently, Minnesota DWI offenders can incur steep fines, license suspension, ignition interlock, vehicle forfeiture, and possible jail time. Criminal penalties are based on the number of prior aggravating factors a driver has at the time of the offense. A first offense DWI is a gross misdemeanor charge. After a fourth offense and/or depending on related circumstances, a DWI becomes a felony charge. A Minnesota driver charged with a first-degree felony DWI can face a minimum jail term of 180 days, a maximum jail term of five to seven years, and fines of up to $14,000.
The new Minnesota bill would automatically revoke a person’s driver’s license with a fifth DWI offense, but some drivers may be allowed to get their license back. The bill would include an option that allows drivers to petition the court to get their driver’s license reinstated after 10 years have passed from the date the license was revoked. The final decision would be up to the court. State lawmakers and law enforcement are in favor of the new bill and its terms to revoke a driver’s license for repeat DWI offenders for 10 years. Police officers say the bill is a good start, but hey commonly encounter drivers with revoked licenses who are still driving using a friend or family member’s vehicle.
If the proposed bill passes, the new rules would apply to DWI violations that occur on or after August 1, 2018.