Understanding Whiskey Plates in Minnesota


If you or someone you care about just lost your license plates, we know you’re experiencing some stress right now. Here are a few questions we often receive, which should help you in understanding Whiskey Plates in Minnesota.

Why do I have to pay for a whiskey plate?

According to Minnesota law, drivers in the state who have been convicted of a DWI and whose license plates are impounded must place special registration plates on any cars registered under their name. A court can order the plates according to their discretion, but these are grounds for ordering a driver to carry whiskey plates:

  • DWI with a child under 16 in the vehicle.
  • Two DWIs within 10 years
  • Multiple DWIs (any number of years)
  • DWI with blood alcohol over 0.16
  • Refusing a field sobriety test

I was driving someone else’s car and they took the plates. What do I do?

You can file a sworn statement within seven days of the impoundment notice. The commissioner will rescind the impoundment order if you show that it was not properly issued. Contact us for more specifics on this topic.

How long do the plates have to be on my car?

You must have the plates on your vehicle for at least one year after the date of the offense, or until your driver’s license is valid again.

Where do I go to get a whiskey plate for my car?

Go to your Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and ask for the plate just as you would any other. The cost is $57 to get the plate. There is an additional $57 cost to remove the plates from your vehicle once your license is valid again.

Why do I have to put the plates on all my cars?

According to state law the order includes, “the impoundment of the registration plates of the motor vehicle involved in the plate impoundment violation and all motor vehicles owned by, registered, or leased in the name of the violator, including motor vehicles registered jointly or leased in the name of the violator and another.” All plates must be surrendered within seven days of the impoundment notice.

How do I get rid of a whiskey plate?

You can challenge an order to put whiskey plates on your car within a certain timeframe after the impoundment is ordered. If you wish to challenge the order, you should call and schedule a time to meet with us immediately so we have time to work on your case. We have had success working with judges to lift the requirement, but you only have 30 days after the actual impoundment to request a hearing.

Will I be a target because of my whiskey plate?

An officer cannot stop your car just for having whiskey plates – there must be another reason. While it’s true that the plates are meant to help officers spot drivers who have had multiple DWI convictions, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled in 2003 that it is unconstitutional for a law enforcement officer to stop a driver solely on the basis of being marked with the plates. Officers can still pull your car over, as long as there is a basis for it, other than the plates.

What if I sold my car already?

You’ll need to provide all material information relating to the order. If you sold the car, provide the date, name, location, and address of the person or entity that purchased it. Keep in mind that the commissioner will review the information to determine whether the sale is legitimate.

All I did was refuse to take a test. Why is this illegal?

According to Minnesota law, “It is a crime for any person to refuse to submit to a chemical test of the person’s blood, breath or urine.”

I still have questions!

If you need help to challenge an order to put the plates on your car, contact us immediately. Remember, you must file a statement that you did not own the car or purchase the plates within seven days of the impoundment notice.

Disclaimer: The content of this article does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Please contact Jennifer Speas to discuss the specifics of your case.