Minnesota Criminal Vehicular Operation Laws

The state of Minnesota does not criminalize any occurrence of bodily injury which is caused by typical negligent driving that leads to a vehicle accident. The state does, however, criminalize certain driving behaviors that lead to the bodily harm of others. More specifically, actions are considered criminal offenses when proof of heightened negligence is present. It is at this point that the individual can be charged with a crime whenever someone else gets hurt in a vehicle collision or accident that they caused.

In order for the State to bring criminal vehicular operation (CVO) charges against someone, it must be proven that the driver who caused the injury of another was operating their vehicle under one or more of these conditions:

  • In a blatantly negligent manner
  • In a negligent manner while under the influence of a controlled substance, alcohol, or a combination of the two
  • With a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or higher, in which case a charge of driving while impaired (DWI) is also likely
  • While having a BAC of 0.08 or higher within two hours of driving
  • In a negligent manner while knowingly under the influence of a hazardous substance
  • In a negligent manner while any controlled substance except THC or marijuana is present in the driver’s body
  • When the driver responsible for the accident leaves the scene where bodily harm to another individual is obvious
  • When the driver responsible for the accident does not contact police after realizing they have been involved in an accident that caused bodily injury
  • When the driver held previous knowledge of a citation for a defectively maintained vehicle that was a danger to others, yet did not remedy the defective maintenance that led to the injury

The driver who is charged with criminal vehicular operation could face either a gross misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the severity of the harm caused to the other person.

Criminal vehicular operation can be cited as a felony charge if the conduct of the responsible driver results in substantial bodily harm for someone else or for an unborn fetus that is later born alive. “Substantial” is described as a fracture or a substantial yet temporary loss, impairment, or disfigurement. A driver facing a charge of criminal vehicular operation causing substantial bodily harm could be penalized with a maximum prison sentence of three years and a fine of $10,000.

A CVO charge could also be classified as a felony when great bodily harm is caused to another person. It is more serious than substantial bodily harm and is described as an injury that brings with it a high chance of death, permanent impairment or loss of any body part, or serious permanent disfigurement to the afflicted individual. A felony CVO charge causing great bodily harm carries a maximum jail sentence of five years and a $10,000 fine.

A gross misdemeanor CVO charge means the negligent driving behavior led to some form of bodily injury less severe than great or substantial as previously explained. Drivers facing a gross demeanor criminal vehicular operation citation could receive a penalty of up to a year in prison and a fine of $10,000.

Besides monetary fines and jail time, additional penalties upon a CVO conviction might include license cancellation, vehicle forfeiture, and the loss of certain constitutional rights, including the right to vote or carry firearms.

Because of the potentially severe consequences, drivers in the Anoka and Shakopee, Minnesota, areas who have been charged with criminal vehicular operation should consider contacting one of our skilled criminal defense attorneys to schedule an initial consultation. We will review the facts of your case and help you decide how to best move forward.