Minnesota Mulls Expansion Of Interlock Program

A new law would soon require ignition interlocks for all DWI convictions in Minnesota. Minnesota would become the 26th state in the nation to adopt such a law. Supporters and a DWI attorney in St. Paul point to the 15 percent reduction in alcohol-related fatalities and DWI arrests in other states as proof that the law works.

What is an interlock?

An ignition interlock device is a breathalyzer that drivers use before starting their vehicle. Drivers attach a handheld mouthpiece to a cable that runs under the dashboard of the car. In order to start the vehicle, the driver blows a sample into the mouthpiece. If the sample is clean, the device sends a signal to the ignition to start the car.

What is the current program?

Under the law adopted in 2011, several groups can register for the program:

  • First time offenders with a blood alcohol concentration of more than 0.16
  • Second time offenders
  • People who refuse a roadside sobriety test
  • Drivers whose driving licenses were canceled as “inimical to public safety”
  • Non-fatal road accidents where alcohol was involved

The purpose of the law is to allow drivers to keep their Class D license to continue normal activities, such as going to work or taking care of their children. With the help of a DWI attorney in St. Paul, the length of time an ignition interlock is required is variable. Generally, the period lasts for one year for new offenders, two years for a second offense, and 3-6 years for more serious offenses.

What are the proposed changes?

The new law would require all first time offenders to install an ignition interlock, and maintain the device for at least 180 days without a positive test. Repeat offenders would be required to use a device for much longer.

The changes address one of the core problems with the current system: people driving without a license. A report from Mothers Against Drunk Driving showed 50 to 75 percent of Minnesota drivers get around license suspensions because the punishments are not severe enough to act as a deterrent. An expansion of the ignition interlock program would make working around DWI punishments far more difficult.

A DWI attorney in St. Paul will become a powerful ally under the new guidelines. Successfully arguing for a lower charge may be able to significantly reduce the amount of time drivers have to submit to an ignition interlock.

He has won jury trial cases in misdemeanor and felony cases and in DWI’s and non-DWI’s. He is a member of the Minnesota Society for Criminal Justice, which only allows the top 50 criminal defense attorneys in the state as members. He is a frequent speaker at CLE’s and is often asked for advice by other defense attorneys across Minnesota.

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