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Minnesota Whiskey Plates

What You Need to Know About Whiskey Plates

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What Are Whiskey Plates?

After a DUI or DWI incident in Minnesota, exclusive plates are issued to drivers. These plates are often referred to as “whiskey plates” and serve to differentiate drivers who have these incidents on their record from those that don’t. The offense is applied to both the person charged with the DWI or DUI and the owner of the vehicle, even if they are found innocent of any charge.

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Here is a list of the offenses that can warrant the issuance of whiskey plates:

  • Any DWI offense in which the blood alcohol level of the offender is .16 or higher as measured by blood, urine or breathalyzer.

  • Refusing an intoxication test within ten years of any DWI or test refusal offense.

  • Receiving an additional DWI within ten years of a prior DWI offense.

  • Receiving a DWI/DUI/Test refusal offense while a minor aged 16 and below is present in the vehicle.

  • Receiving a DWI while driving with a suspended, revoked or cancelled driver’s license.

  • For commercial drivers, whiskey plates can be issued if they are found to have a BAC of .04 or higher within ten years of a previous DWI offense.

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What if I’m driving someone else's car?

In Minnesota, even if someone else is charged with a DWI while driving your car, you may still be forced to have whiskey plates on your car. Additionally, if your spouse or family member is listed on your registration and receives a DWI charge, whiskey plates may also be required for your vehicle.

So, what do whiskey plates look like?

Whiskey Plates usually begin with the letter ‘W’. They usually begin with WR, WT, WS, WX, WY or WZ and allow law enforcement to recognize vehicles that have been stopped for a DWI offense.

Do I have to pay for whiskey plates?

Whiskey Plates do cost money to the automobile owner. Each set of plates costs $50.

Am I more likely to be stopped with whiskey plates than without?

It was once acceptable for police officers to stop drivers with whiskey plates even without them having committed an offense. The whiskey plates alone, with the easily identifiable ‘W’, provided enough probable cause for a traffic stop. Later, the Minnesota Supreme Court declared that law enforcement must have “reasonable articulable basis” to stop a vehicle, even one with whiskey plates.

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How long am I required to drive with whiskey plates?

Drivers who require whiskey plates must utilize them for a minimum of one year. Applying for new plates is not allowed until the one year requirement has been met. If the offender is the one who owns the vehicle, new plates and registration will not be issued until a valid driver’s license is once again granted to the driver by the state.

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