I Was Arrested for a First Time DWI in Minnesota: Will I Lose My Driver’s License?

Our state takes intoxicated driving seriously. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety reports that 24,000 DWI arrests were made in 2017 alone. Whenever a driver is arrested for impaired driving in Minnesota, they will be put on the fast track to having their license revoked.

That being said, there are steps that you can take to protect your ability to drive after a DWI arrest. In this article, our Mankato drunk driving defense lawyers provide an overview of the most important things you need to know about first time DWI arrests and your driver’s license.


DWI penalties fall into two separate categories: administrative sanctions and criminal penalties.

The most common administrative sanction is license revocation. At the administrative level, sanctions can come well before a conviction. If you do not take action, you are not going to get your day in court—at least as it pertains to an administrative license suspension.

In other words, once you are arrested for a DWI—even a first time DWI—Minnesota can initiate the process to revoke your license. How long will the administrative license revocation last for a first time DWI in Minnesota? It depends on the specific circumstances of your case. Specifically, the initial administrative revocation time is as follows:

  • BAC Level Under 0.16: 90-day license revocation.
  • BAC Level Under 0.16, but Underage Driver: 180-day license revocation.
  • BAC Level Over 0.16: 1-year license revocation.
  • Test Refusal: 1-year license revocation.
  • Criminal Operation (Serios DWI Accident): 2-year license revocation.

To be clear, these are only the administrative penalties for first time DWI offenses. Minnesota has a graduated system of sanctions for drunk driving. If you already have prior impaired driving arrests on your record, you will face lengthier license revocation.


Following a DWI arrest, you will likely be granted a seven-day limited purpose license while your administrative revocation is processed. During this time, you may be able to file an appeal and/or take action to preserve your driving privileges. Specifically, first time DWI offenders may be eligible for:

  • Work Permit: A work permit is a limited purpose license that allows a person to drive up to six days a week while their license is revoked. You can only use a work permit for approved job-related, educational, or homemaker purposes.
  • Interlock Ignition Device: Some offenders may also be eligible to get an interlock ignition device installed on their vehicle. With this, a restricted license will be issued that allows a driver to operate only their vehicle with an approved device.

Arrested for a first time DWI? An experienced defense lawyer can help you determine the best path forward. Navigating the process after a drunk driving arrest can be confusing. It is also important to remember that the administrative revocation of your license is only one part of the process. You still have to worry about the criminal charges.


At Kohlmeyer Hagen, Law Office Chtd., our Minnesota drunk driving defense lawyers are experienced, aggressive advocates for our clients. We will help you take action to protect your rights and preserve your driving privileges. To arrange a free, confidential review of your case, please contact our law firm today at 507-200-8959. With a law office in Mankato, we serve communities throughout Southern Minnesota.

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