DWI in a School Zone: A Separate and Serious Charge in Minnesota

If you made the decision to have a few drinks and drive home in Minnesota, then you are setting yourself up for a gamble. Not only are you gambling with the safety of other drivers, but you are gambling that you won’t get pulled over for an act that is indeed a crime. If you do get pulled over by the police, then a DWI charge is most certainly in your future. However, you could also be looking at double the penalties if you were pulled over in or seen passing through a school zone.

While many people are familiar with a DWI as well as its penalties, most are unfamiliar that you can face harsher penalties if you are pulled over from drunk driving in or through a school zone. In fact, the charge of DWI in a School Zone is a completely separate offense, one that can be piled on top of your already impeding DWI charge.

DWI in a School Zone When School Wasn’t in Session

Many who hear of DWI in a School Zone are facing these charges for the very first time. However, there are some who believe that because it was the middle of the night and school was not in session, then the charge is invalid. However, the truth is that school need not be in session and children need not be present. A school zone is a school zone regardless of it is two in the afternoon or two in the morning. A school zone also extends to more than just an area where a school it, it can also include properties owned or used by schools.

Furthermore, when pulled over, you don’t even need to be stopped in a school zone. Often if a police officer is following you, documenting your driving in a school zone, you can be stopped well outside of it and still be charged. All the prosecution needs to prove is that you drove through a school zone while intoxicated to lend validity to this charge, and that can be done with a DWI arrest some miles down the road rather than being pulled over in the zone itself.

Penalties for DWI in a School Zone

The penalties for a DWI in a School Zone are very similar to the penalties for a regular DWI, though much harsher in scale. First time penalties include up to 60 days in county jail, loss of driver’s license for two years, and a fine of between $600 to $1000 dollars. For repeat offenders, the punishments go up exponentially.

On top of this punishment, you can be charged with a regular DWI as well as a DWI in a School Zone, and often you will have to face double the punishments. This means the punishments of a DWI in a School Zone and your standard DWI punishments on top of that. The small shred of good news is if you are on your second or third offense for a DWI, a DWI in a School Zone is a separate charge and will still be considered a first offense.

Need Help?

As you are facing double the punishment and with a DWI in a School Zone having much harsher penalties, you need to fight these DWI charges as best you can so you don’t need to face the strict punishments. If you are in the Minneapolis area and have been charged with DWI in a School Zone, contact us today. The Law Office of Judith Samson is dedicated to fighting for the rights of Minnesota’s citizens to make sure they don’t face harsh punishment for charges they didn’t even know existed.

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Case Results


County: Scott

Type of Charge: 3rd DWI

Priors: 1 prior

Final Deposition: Plead to a 4th degree DWI

Sentence Imposed: No jail


County: Dakota

Type of Charge: Harassment Order

Priors: None

Final Deposition: Dismissed

Sentence Imposed:


County: Hennepin

Type of Charge: Solicitation of Prostitute

Priors: 1 prior

Final Deposition: Stay of imposition vacate and dismiss

Sentence Imposed: No jail

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