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Minnesota DWIs can follow you across the Wisconsin border

Despite the small rivalry, Minnesota and Wisconsin residents are incredibly similar between spending time outdoors to brewing beer in the basement of their homes. It makes sense that residents who live on the border between the two states often cross for either work or play.

But if you are a Wisconsin resident driving along I-94 or into other areas of Minnesota, you are vulnerable to Minnesota traffic violations, especially DWI. Any violation could easily follow you back across state borders and influence your driving record in your state.

What classifies as a DWI?

In Minnesota, a DWI, sometimes called "DUI," is diving, operating or being in physical control of a motor vehicle while:

  • Under the influence of alcohol or dugs
  • Knowingly under the influence of hazardous substances that impair driving abilities
  • Having a blood concentration of .08 percent or greater
  • Having any amount of a Schedule I or II drug, exceptmarijuana.

If you are lawfully arrested for DWI, Minnesota law makes it a crime to refuse to take a breath alcohol test. This offense is referred to as an "implied consent" or test refusal crime. This is also true in Wisconsin.

What penalties can I have out-of-state?

If convicted, you can still face many potential penalties including jail time, heavy fines and loss of your driving privileges because your home state, in this case Wisconsin, will be notified of the charges. This notification triggers a license suspension or other penalties.

The reason this information is shared is because of Interstate Driver's License Compact agreement, where most states agreed to share any DWI charges to a person’s home state. Wisconsin is one of five states not a part of that agreement, but they often still share information.

This agreement means that Minnesota will always send any DWI charges back to Wisconsin and can determine your privileges to drive in the state of Minnesota. If Wisconsin picks up the charges, it can also impose its own penalties because the driver was licensed in Wisconsin.

Again, these states are extremely similar and reflect that through their laws. Both states often increase severity in fines and driving privileges after multiple DWI offenses. If this is your first, second or third DWI, it dramatically changes what you will be able to do after conviction.

What do I do after?

Do not ignore the arrest because it does not go away easily. Most circumstances will not require you to enter a guilty plea to a DWI offense out-of-state, but they will ask for a court appearance. Stay informed and pay attention because it make the process a little less painful.

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