Minnesota DWI: Whiskey Plates

As a firm that practices exclusively in the field of criminal defense, we are often asked about whiskey plates. What are they? When is a person required to have whiskey plates? How long do they have to stay on the vehicle?

The State of Minnesota refers to this practice as license plate impoundment. During a plate impoundment period, the state will issue “special registration plates” to any affected vehicle. However, citizens have, for many years, jokingly referred to special registration plates as “whiskey plates.”

Minnesota is one of only a few states to have utilized special registration plates as one of the consequences of a DWI offense. The appearance of Minnesota’s whiskey plates, in their current iteration, generally consists of black letters on a plain white background. The plates also begin with the letter “W,” and are then generally followed by another letter and a series of numbers.

There are a number of conditions that can trigger the whiskey plate requirement. Even first time offenders can be required to install whiskey plates if certain conditions are met. Some of the most common reasons that whiskey plates will be required include, having an alcohol concentration twice the legal limit or more (0.16), incurring a DWI offense within ten years of a previous prior impaired driving incident, and a DWI offense while having a child under the age of 16 in a vehicle at the time of an impaired driving offense.

If a DWI offense triggers the special registration plate requirement, then offenders are generally required to have whiskey plates for at least one year. Another common inquiry we receive is in regards to which vehicles are required to have whiskey plates after an offense, or what if the offending driver is not the owner of the vehicle? Those questions will be addressed in future posts.

Attorneys John J. Leunig and Justin J. Duffy have vast experience handling DWI cases, including cases that resulted in acquittals at trial, dismissals prior to trial, and have successfully overturned DWI convictions on appeal. If you or a loved one are facing charges for a criminal offense, call the criminal defense attorneys at The Law Office of John Leunig, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, at 952-540-6800 for a free consultation.

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