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Minnesota Senate considers employment expansion for ignition interlocks

Minnesota Senate considers employment expansion for ignition interlocks

A state senator from Northern Minnesota introduced a new measure to the Senate Judiciary Committee Monday that seeks to create a pilot program to extend the use of ignition interlock devices in Minnesota driving while impaired cases.

Ignition interlocks are devices that are installed in a car to prevent the vehicle from starting when a driver measures above a specified level for alcohol in a breath test (generally set at 0.02 percent blood alcohol concentration). The device may also include random resting while the car is running-that information is stored in the unit.

The devices have been in use in Minnesota for some time now in certain DWI cases. A pilot program was deemed successful and was expanded to statewide use in 2011. The current law allows drivers to continue to drive after being accused of DWI in Minnesota by having the device installed at the defendant’s expense.

The devices have been important for people in Minnesota, especially for those who need to drive to get to work. That is similar to where the Northern Minnesota lawmaker seeks to expand the use of ignition interlocks–in work-related areas.

The bill seeks to allow use of ignition interlock breath testing machines in work-related vehicles with the employer’s permission. A report carried in the Daily Tribune does not indicate where the proponents of the bill wish to begin the pilot program.

But the measure would allow workers to drive company vehicles with an ignition interlock if the employer signs onto the program. An amendment to the bill reportedly addresses the issue of “whiskey plates,” allowing a driver to operate the employer vehicle without requiring whiskey plates to be installed on the employer vehicle.

A state senator from St. Louis Park added an amendment to the bill to extend the program to drivers convicted of criminal vehicular homicide or criminal vehicular operation. The bill was introduced (and amended) in the committee this week before the Senate Judiciary Committee sent the approved measure to the Senate Transportation and Public Safety Committee.

Source: Hibbing Daily Tribune, “Ignition interlock program introduced,” Urmila Ramakrishnan, March 13, 2013

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