With the sheer number of anti-drunk driving campaigns on Minnesota televisions and radios, many people in Minneapolis would assume that Minnesota is one of the strictest states when it comes to driving while intoxicated. Surprisingly, it is not. Minnesota is one of 33 states that does not require people convicted for the first time of drunk driving to install an ignition interlock. Unless a driver has a blood alcohol content that is two times the legal limit or higher or is being convicted of a second or subsequent drunk driving offense, Minnesotans do not need to have these devices in their vehicles.
An ignition interlock is a machine that will prevent a car from starting unless the driver can take and pass a breath test. In addition to the inconvenience of having to take an alcohol breath test every single time you want to drive somewhere and the stigma that comes with having an ignition interlock device, they can cost a lot of money. The average cost of installation is $75 and the monthly rental fee is $70.
The federal government and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are not satisfied with these 33 states’ laws, however. Instead, they want more states to pass legislation that would require anyone convicted of drunk driving, regardless of if it is a first or subsequent offense, to install an ignition interlock device. Ultimately, the decision lies with the states, but there are $20.8 million in highway safety funds that are being offered to states who take the initiative and amend their ignition interlock drives.
It remains to be seen if Minnesota will succumb to federal pressure, but Minneapolis residents will want to keep abreast of changing drunk driving laws.
Source: Washington Post, “Federal officials push for tougher state drunken-driving laws,” Ashley Halsey III, Aug. 14, 2012
Check out our Minneapolis vehicular homicide page to learn more about alcohol breath tests.