Use of ignition interlock devices is a growing trend across the nation to control the number of DWI/DUI arrests in the country. A recent study indicates that the number of the devices that have been installed has more than doubled across the country in the last five years. The national study says that roughly 249,000 cars across the country now have ignition interlock devices installed. That number is a significant increase that the roughly 101,000 cars equipped with the devices in 2006.
This year, Minnesota became one the growing number of states that have enacted laws regarding the potential use of ignition interlocks under implied consent or DWI statutes. Minnesota began a pilot program to test the devices back in 2009. However, a new law went into effect on July 1, expanding the use of ignition interlocks for certain drivers in Minnesota who wish to participate in the ignition interlock program.
First-time offenders who test 0.16 percent or greater and all second-time DWI offenders can regain their driving privileges sooner through participating in the Minnesota Ignition Interlock Program, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.
The program includes separate provisions for Minnesota drivers whose licenses have been cancelled and those cancelled as “inimical to public safety.” Those drivers are required to participate in the interlock device program for three to six years before they can regain full driving privileges under state law, according to the DPS.
Ignition interlock devices can reduce the period a driver is prohibited from driving under the state’s tough implied consent license revocation laws. However, the devices can certainly increase the overall costs of a DWI conviction. The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that having the device on a vehicle costs a driver between $800 and $1000 each year. Some experts say the costs can actually be higher.
The devices act essentially as a personal breathalyzer. A driver must blow into the device before starting the car. If the device detects a specified level of alcohol in the breath test, the car will not start, according to the DPS.
Source: The New Mexican, “Interlock use burgeoning across U.S.,” Kate Nash, Oct. 16, 2011
Minnesota Department of Public Safety, “Minnesota Ignition Interlock Device Program.”