Drinking in Minnesota

Dear Readers,
Several alcohol related laws have been passed in my state of Minnesota.
The first is a law that allows breweries to sell “growlers” (64 oz.) of beer on Sundays. This law also lets restaurants sell drinks at 8 am. The full article from the Star Tribune is here
There are no liquor store sales in this state on Sundays. So this is an exception to that law.
There was quite a discussion on if we should allow Sunday sales. The new brew pubs wanted to be able to sell their craft beers on Sunday, so this was a compromise. 

Why we needed to be able to drink alcohol at 8 am? I have no idea.
But the people in the article were happy they could have a drink early in the day.

By 9 a.m. the Mennings each had their alcoholic beverage in hand. She had a screwdriver and he a craft beer.

“It was hugely different. Now we have a lot more day to use,” said Menning, of south Minneapolis. “It was perfect.”
The second law is one that stiffens the consequences for mid-level DWIs. The full article from the Star Tribune is here.

This is interesting. I read all the news, and I had no idea this law was coming. 
It’s a little tricky to understand. 
The legal limit for a DWI is still .08. It’s considered a misdemeanor.
The Legislature this year lowered the threshold for a gross misdemeanor drunken driving offense to a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of .16 percent. That’s still twice the legal limit for misdemeanor DWIs, but it’s .04 percentage point lower than the previous trigger for seriously impaired driving violations.

The change will expose those defendants to maximum one-year jail terms, up from 90 days under the misdemeanor standard. It would triple the current $1,000 maximum fine. And it would authorize stiffer bail, result in much higher auto insurance rates and more painful legal bills. Gross misdemeanor convictions also can mean stiffer penalties for subsequent DWIs.
One out of every seven licensed Minnesota drivers has at least one DWI. 
Some lawyers who represent those charged with drunken driving say the lower threshold is too punitive. But supporters say the tougher law is worth it, because it will save lives.
Research shows that the likelihood of getting involved in an accident spikes above a BAC of .15

In the past three years, an average of 5,024 people a year were charged in Minnesota for driving with blood-alcohol levels between .16 and .19. Nearly 6 of 10 were first-offenders, according to the Department of Public Safety. Minnesota has the highest DWI recidivism rate in the nation, at over 40 percent.
From 2011 through 2013, 77 people died in Minnesota and 42 others were injured in crashes involving drivers with BAC levels between .16 and .19. An average of 99 people died each year in all alcohol-related accidents in Minnesota in those years, and an average of 2,440 were injured.
Alcohol-related traffic crashes in Minnesota cost an estimated $204 million in medical expenses, property damage and lost productivity in 2013.
Some of the comments after the DWI article mentioned that there is no public transportation from their suburbs to fun downtown night spots or ballparks. That is true. But someone in the party could be a sober driver.
As I see it here in our state, there are two forces at work here.
One is the money alcohol brings to the state. The other is public safety. I just wonder how we can help both work together. Our mind set of drinking and driving must change. We still think we should be able to drink and drive, not fully understanding that even having “two” glasses of alcohol are impairing to drivers. 

People have the freedom to drink, but need to take the responsibility that comes with that freedom.
I for one, will not be drinking today, however.

On Day 284

9 thoughts on “Drinking in Minnesota

  1. the statistic that really surprised me in that post is that 1 in 7 drivers in Minnesota has a DWI. that seems like a really high proportion! not that I have anything to compare it to – anecdotally I know 2 people in real life who have been prosecuted for a drink driving offence. and yes I expect there are more people who I know who have had one in the past and I'm not aware of it. I couldn't find a comparable statistic for the UK – if it is actually lower then does that mean that people are drinking driving less, and if so, why? is drinking and driving less socially acceptable here? or is it just that fewer of them are caught?


  2. Hi Wendy,Here in Australia the legal BAC for driving is .05 You will get a hefty fine and lose your license if you are over that. We don't have alcohol on supermarket shelves, but bottle shops are open on Sundays. Alcohol is far too easily available.A x


  3. Wow Wendy that is astonishing! Both the comment under the article about changes to drinking laws and the punitive nature of availing yourself of those changes when driving. This is crazy stuff and seriously mixed message!! xx


  4. That is an interesting insight on the matter. Given those statistics, it’s good that they’re cracking down on the gross misdemeanor factor of drunk driving, though it’s still worth mentioning that delayed reaction time and sense impairment can occur even at 0.08. So it’s really just best if one would just take a cab or have a designated driver when going out for a night of thinking. Anyway, thanks for sharing your thoughts on the matter. Good day!Faith Brady @ K Hunter Law


  5. Interesting and informative. I actually never looked at any statistics in the state I live. I usually hear after holiday weekends how many got arrested for DUI. It always mazed me that people drink and drive. But then… I used to do it myself. So so stupid.


  6. It’s not much a surprise that the statistics for this unfortunate tragedy is at that point, since almost everyone we know, or what is shown on media has something to do with DUI’s. Though, it is very interesting that that is the number of incidents there in Minnesota. Anyway, Thanks for sharing this with us. Take care!Joanne Krueger @ Kurtz & Blum


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