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Minnesota DWI & the B-card – A Restricted Driver’s License Summary 


The B-Card is a “restricted driver’s license” with a no-alcohol/drug restriction. The B-Card provides a repeat DWI offender with an opportunity to become validly relicensed to drive after cancellation for a third or subsequent impaired driving incident.  To be eligible, the offender must complete chemical dependency treatment and a rehabilitation period described in law.  Any violation of that no-alcohol/drug restriction, irrespective of whether the violation involved driving, carries stiff consequences for the violator, including both administrative sanctions and, if the person was driving, criminal penalties.  Thus with the B-Card, the repeat-DWI offender gets another chance to legally drive, but only if he or she remains permanently chemically free. In Years past, the B card was a permanent fixture once acquired. However, under new law effective June 2011, the B card restriction may be removed as outlined below.




When is a person’s driver’s license cancelled?


The Department of Public Safety (DPS) may cancel a persons driver’s license when it deems that the person’s operation of a motor vehicle is inimical to public safety. Pursuant to this authority, DPS cancels a person’s license when he or she has three impaired driving incidents within ten years or four incidents on record.



What counts as an impaired driving incident?


An alcohol- or controlled substance-related driving violation that results in either an administrative loss of driver’s license, a criminal conviction for a DWI, or criminal vehicular homicide constitutes an impaired driving incident.  Even if a DWI criminal charge is dropped or reduced to a lesser charge, the implied consent revocation alone counts as a qualified prior impaired driving incident.



What is a restricted driver’s license?


Minnesota Statutes, section 171.09, authorizes the DPS to issue a driver’s license to certain drivers, contingent upon the applicant’s written agreement to certain restrictions deemed appropriate for public safety.  Such a license is referred to as a “restricted driver’s license.”



    What is a B-Card?


When a restricted driver’s license is issued to a rehabilitated repeat-DWI offender, he or she must absolutely abstain from alcohol and illicit drugs permanently.  This restricted

license is commonly referred to as a “B-Card.”



What are the restrictions of a B-Card?


Following a repeat DWI violation, a person must successfully complete chemical dependency treatment, as well as rehabilitation (following a third or subsequent impaired driving incident), before he or she can be validly relicensed to drive—and then only with a B-Card.  However, that B-Card license is contingent upon the person maintaining complete abstinence from alcohol and illegal drugs.  The revoked driver must agree in writing to the abstinence restriction before being issued the B-Card.




Is the “no-alcohol” restriction permanent?

In years past, the no-alcohol restriction was deemed permanent. However, in June 2011, legislation was enacted that allows for the removal of the restriction if a driver completes ten years with a valid license with no alcohol related violations or B card violations.


Can a B-Card be cancelled without the person getting another DWI?


DPS will cancel a person’s B-Card if any police report or other authoritative information indicates that the person has consumed alcohol. Sometimes that information arises from a DWI arrest. More often, it stems from a traffic stop that involves alcohol but does not constitute impaired driving. Other times, the drinking is discovered by officers called to a domestic altercation or is reported by a spouse, neighbor, or other source. There does not need to be an arrest or conviction for any crime for a person’s drinking to trigger cancellation of the B-Card. In Ascher v. the Commissioner of Public Safety (1994), the Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled that even when the consumption information is obtained through an unconstitutional police stop, DPS may use it to cancel a person’s B-Card.



What are the consequences for cancellation of a B-Card?


The consequences of a B-Card cancellation are quite severe, since before the person can again become validly licensed with a B-Card, he or she must again successfully complete chemical dependency treatment and rehabilitation. According to DPS rules, the rehabilitation process for obtaining a B-Card requires documented proof of alcohol/drug abstinence for a minimum period of:


    one year, for a person’s first rehabilitation;

    three years, for the person’s second rehabilitation; and

    six years, for the person’s third or subsequent rehabilitation.



What criminal penalties apply?


In addition to the administrative sanctions, the law also provides for gross misdemeanor criminal penalties upon conviction for a violation of the no- alcohol/drug restriction of the B-Card license while driving (Minn. Stat. §




Must the “no alcohol” restriction stay on the plastic driver’s license?


The B-Card- Significant Changes - As of June, 2011, persons with a B-Card can apply to have the no alcohol restriction removed from their driving record and driver's license if the person has not violated the abstinence condition for the past 10 years. A non-DWI violation of "any use of alcohol or drugs invalidates license" restriction results in 1 year of ignition interlock and a chemical health assessment and order to comply with the assessment requirements.





* This Article is derived from The Research Department of the Minnesota House of Representatives is a nonpartisan office providing legislative, legal, and information services to the entire House. It was written by James Cleary.



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