You Don’t Have to Be Driving a Car to Get a DWI in Minnesota

Minnesota residents can get a DWI for operating vehicles other than their car while intoxicated. It is illegal to operate any motorable vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. State law clearly defines the types of motor vehicles that can lead to a DWI if operated while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.


Bicycle riders in Minnesota cannot be charged with a DWI for riding while intoxicated. However, they may face other charges, like reckless driving, if they are impaired and ride their bicycles in a way that endangers others.

Motorized Vehicles and Devices

Driving motorized vehicles such as mopeds and ATVs while intoxicated will attract more serious charges than those involving bicycles. Minnesota traffic laws also prohibit residents from operating boats under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. Other types of motor vehicles that are illegal to operate while intoxicated include dirt bikes, MTBs, snowmobiles, four-wheel drives, and side-by-side vehicles.

DWI Charges

The DWI charges are similar regardless of the type of motor vehicle involved. A DWI conviction can attract both administrative sanctions and criminal charges. The penalties may include license suspension, loss of driving privileges, fines, and imprisonment.

Administrative Sanctions

Minnesota law provides three types of administrative sanctions:

License Revocation: The duration of license revocation depends on the severity of the current offense and the person’s past record.

License Plate Impoundment: This applies when the DWI incident involves aggravating factors such as previous charges, canceled driver’s license, or having a child aged below 16 in the vehicle.

Vehicle Forfeiture: This sanction applies to third-degree DWI violations with one or more aggravating factors.

Criminal Charges

There are four degrees of DWI charges in Minnesota. Someone who has no previous offenses in the past 10 years and no aggravating factors will likely face fourth-degree DWI charges. Penalties include jail time for up to 90 days and a fine of up to $1,000. The charge may be upgraded to a felony or gross misdemeanor if other people have been harmed.

A first-degree charge applies to drivers who have had three or more DWI charges within the past ten years, a previous first-degree charge, or a previous felony conviction for vehicular homicide. People who are convicted face a fine of up to $14,000 and imprisonment for up to seven years.

Max Keller has won countless jury trial cases involving misdemeanors and felonies, sex crimes, and DWI’s. He is a member of the Minnesota Society for Criminal Justice, which only allows the top 50 criminal defense attorneys in the state as members. Max is a frequent speaker at CLE’s and is often asked for advice by other defense attorneys across Minnesota.

Years of Experience: Approx. 20 years
Minnesota Registration Status: Active
Bar & Court Admissions: State of Minnesota Minnesota State Court Minnesota Federal Court 8th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals State of Maryland

What to Do If You Have Been Charged with a Criminal Offense

Knowing how to choose a criminal defense lawyer in Minneapolis, MN, can help you hire a lawyer who will prepare an effective defense strategy and fight for the best result from your case. One of the crucial tips when selecting a criminal defense lawyer is to vet those with relevant experience in cases like yours. You can only do this when you thoroughly understand the charges you are facing.
People anticipating an arrest in Minneapolis, Minnesota, might ask, “What is the role of a defense attorney during an arrest?” A skilled criminal defense attorney can explain your options, ensure the police follow the rules, and protect your rights. The attorney will build a solid defense, talk to the prosecutor, and fight for your best interests.
Knowing when to hire a criminal lawyer for your case in Minnesota can help protect your constitutional rights and turn the odds in your favor. You should retain a criminal lawyer immediately after learning you are under investigation, get arrested, or are charged with a crime. Seasoned criminal lawyers understand the criminal justice system, can build a winning defense strategy, and aggressively push for a positive outcome of your case.