People, Law Enforcement Speak Out About Stiffer Minnesota DWI Penalties

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We first told you last night about the increase in DWI penalties coming to Minnesota in August.

Law enforcement wants to cut down the high number of DWI arrests.

As KVRR’s Erin Lisch tells us, they arrested more than $25,000 people in 2013.

Alison and TJ,

Law enforcement says that DWIs have been a problem for the area in recent years.

I find out what offenders will face when they do decide to drink and drive.

Tonya Hanniesson said, “When you think you’re fine, you’re really not fine.”

This former bar owner agrees that the tougher penalties are needed.

She says she has seen too many intoxicated people get behind the wheel.

“You see what goes on later on when people really need to call a cab and if it were my family that were on the road at that time getting done with a job I just think people need to take more taxis or call somebody to come get them,” said Hanniesson.

In 2013, 387 people died in crashes involving impaired drivers in Minnesota.

Many of the times those who have been found driving while intoxicated have faced law enforcement before.

Moorhead Police’s Tory Jacobson said,” Forty percent are repeat DUIs and will probably reach this threshold at least 2 times the legal amount so certainly there are dangerous drivers out there.”

Starting August 1st, the threshold for a gross misdemeanor DWI offense drops from .20 to .16.

Fines can triple up to $3,000 and you could end up with a year in jail which will be raised from the 90 day max sentence.*

*Depending on Aggravating Factors

One local attorney says it’s a good scare tactic but there are other ways than stiffer consequences.

William Kirschner from Kirschner Law Office said,”Money would be better spent in encouraging some kind of public transportation for people who are drinking.”

Now let’s say you are arrested for a DWI July 31st you’ll be facing the penalties that are used now.

Once August 1st hits, the tougher DWI laws will be in place.

Erin Lisch, KVRR News

Statistics from: Minnesota Department of Safety