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Minnesota Ignition Interlock Program


On July 1, 2011, the new ignition interlock law went into effect in Minnesota, giving DWI offenders across the state an opportunity to drive using ignition interlock during their license revocation/cancellation period.

Ignition interlock systems involve the installation of an alcohol-monitoring device in a person’s motor vehicle. A camera is also installed, which takes a picture of the driver. The driver must provide a breath sample before starting the vehicle, as well as random samples while the vehicle is in operation. The vehicle’s ignition will not start when the driver has an alcohol concentration that exceeds the calibration setting of the device. This alcohol concentration level is currently 0.02.

DWI offenders with prior qualified offenses, or first-time offenders with alcohol concentrations of 0.16 or greater, must use the ignition interlock device should they wish to drive during their revocation period. For offenders with a third qualified offense within ten years, or four or more qualified offenses on their record, their driving privileges will be cancelled-inimical to public safety. Once a cancellation occurs, the driver must complete a process called "rehabilitation" before privileges will be reinstated. Ignition interlock usage is required for the rehabilitation process. In these situations, the first year of ignition interlock usage also requires the offender to have a limited license. A conviction of non-fatal criminal vehicular operation also requires ignition interlock usage. Offenders under the age of 18 are not eligible for ignition interlock usage.

The law recognizes that many DWI offenders need to operate company vehicles during work hours, and that it is impractical to have ignition interlock installed on those company vehicles. Under Minnesota Statutes section 171.306, subdivision 4(b), a program participant can drive an employer-owned vehicle not equipped with an interlock device within the normal course and scope of employment duties, pursuant to guidelines established by the Commissioner. It is also worth noting that this exemption requires the business owner’s written consent.

One issue that can be problematic for DWI offenders entering the ignition interlock program is that the offender must provide an insurance certificate signed by his or her insurance company before the device can be installed. In effect, this requires the driver to self-report his or her pending DWI, which may cause the insurance carrier to cancel the driver’s policy or raise his or her policy rates. However, enrollment in the ignition interlock program may also be a beneficial sentencing option for repeat DWI offenders under Minnesota Statutes section 169A.275, subdivision 7. As provided in that subdivision, a judge may disregard the mandatory minimum sentences for a repeat DWI offender if, as a condition of probation, the offender is permitted only to drive motor vehicles equipped with an ignition interlock device.

Contact Our Minnesota DWI Attorney Today

Use of an Ignition Interlock device is a great way for a revoked or cancelled driver to return to the road; however, it can be very expensive and inconvenient. If you have been charged with a DWI offense you should consult with one of the experienced attorneys to determine if the revocation can be challenged and use of Ignition Interlock avoided. Attorneys are available 24 hours a day to speak with you. Call 612-333-3342 now.

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