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Legal News in Minnesota

The Possibility of All MN DUI Offenders Needing Ignition Interlock

It has been proposed that all DUI offenders in Minnesota should need ignition interlock devices on their vehicles before they are permitted to drive on Minnesota’s roads. The idea behind this is to keep drunk drivers off of the road before they ever get on the road.

This thought process has led a group of lawmakers to propose the mandatory use of ignition interlock devices.

The way the devices work is they prevent a car from starting if the driver doesn’t provide a sober breath sample. If there is alcohol on his or her breath, the car won’t start, and a report is created that shows they attempted to start the car after drinking.

The devices are only required for drivers who have had at least three DUI offenses on their record. It is optional for others to have the ability to drive. The rules are rather complex, but an ignition interlock device can be an alternative to a person losing his or her driver’s license.

A new proposed law, which has been backed by a number of lawmakers and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) would require all offenders to use the ignition interlock device. This would have Minnesota joining 25 other states that have seen positive results from requiring the device for all offenders.

MADD says that the states requiring use have seen a 15 percent reduction in alcohol-related traffic fatalities. So far, nearly 2 million attempts to drive drunk have been stopped by ignition interlock devices in Minnesota alone.

MADD’s report says that the loss of licenses for first- and second-time offenders isn’t enough because 50 to 75 percent of those who have lost their licenses continue to drive without them. MADD sees the device as a way for people with poor judgment to not have the opportunity to drive drunk.

According to the proposal, first-time offenders would be given the device for a year and wouldn’t be able to remove them before going at least 6 months without a non-sober reading. Repeat offenders would be required to keep the device for longer than a year.

Initially, lawmakers wanted to extend the penalty time periods, but MADD and other groups said that the drivers wouldn’t comply if their penalties were too long.

Offenders must pay for their own devices. They pay for the installation and any maintenance. The new proposed law does seek to divert some of the fines toward the ignition interlock device. While this may seem like a financial break for a drunk driver, it would increase the odds that a person would get the device rather than them taking the risk to drive illegally.

So far the proposed law has passed the House Transportation Committee by a unanimous voice vote. The proposed law will now move to the Public Safety Committee. Based on the results seen in other states, it is expected that the law will pass.