Effective July 1, 2011, new legislation passed by Governor Tim Pawlenty will require all Minnesota DWI offenders whose alcohol-concentration levels test .16 and above to install ignition interlock devices in their vehicle.
The ignition interlock is a car device which analyzes the breath alcohol content of the driver before allowing the car to start. The machine is similar to the size of cellular phone and is wired into the vehicle’s starting system by a cord hidden under the dashboard. To ensure alcohol is not consumed while operating the vehicle, the device requires random retests while the car is driven. If throughout the course of the route, the driver blows over .02, the device will stop the vehicle.
Pawlenty’s new legislation extends to DWI offenders with certain aggravating factors: first-time offenders with alcohol-concentration of .16 or higher and offenders with three or more DWI’s within 10 years. Drivers who install the ignition interlock device will regain full driving privileges immediately following their offense.
Although a slightly higher cost, the ignition interlock provides DWI offenders the opportunity to return to their daily routines with driving privileges as well as ensure safer roads for the rest of the public. According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, the device costs about $100 for vehicle installation in addition to the $60 to $125 monthly service charge. However, the benefit of returning quickly to a daily routine of work, soccer practice, and kids’ religious school far outweighs the financial cost of installing the device.
In July 2009 Minnesota implemented the statewide Ignition Interlock Device Pilot Project, allowing drivers with suspended, revoked, cancelled, or withdrawn driver’s licenses (as a result of multiple DWI convictions) to get their driving privileges reinstated earlier on the condition that they install an ignition interlock device in their vehicle. The Ignition Interlock Device Pilot Project began after New Mexico’s reported success from standardizing the device’s installation for DWI offenders.