Minnesota DWI, Whiskey Plates and Innocent Owners

Minnesota drivers who have been involved in certain types of DWI incidents may have their registration plates impounded and are then required to purchase “whiskey plates”. These plates, easily identified by the letter “W” that appears at the beginning of the plate number, immediately alert law enforcement that  the car was involved in a DWI.

The types of DWI offenses included are:

  • DWI arrest with a minor under 16 years of age in the car
  • Blood alcohol of .16 or more
  • Prior DUI license revocation within previous 10 years
  • Prior DWI conviction within previous 10 years

You cannot be stopped just for having whiskey plates, but police will watch the car more closely. The car can, however, be pulled over if police have reason to believe the driver may be driving under the influence or has committed another type of traffic violation.

But what if you’re an “innocent owner”? Because both the driver and the vehicle are subject to plate impoundment, if the car involved in the DWI was borrowed, it still receives whiskey plates, even if its actual owner was not the driver. However, if you were not in the car when the DWI occurred, you are an “innocent owner” and can file a request for a review of the impoundment.

Plate impoundment applies to all cars owned or co-owned by the driver who committed the DWI, which must also bear whiskey plates for at least one year. Drivers convicted of a qualifying DWI must purchase whiskey plates at a cost of $57 per set, and there is a second $57 charge for plate removal.

If you are an innocent owner, you want to challenge the impoundment, or you believe your plates were unfairly impounded, contact us for a free consultation. Our expertise can help you navigate the road through the review process.

DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Please contact attorney Kirk Anderson for an initial consultation.