As discussed in a previous post, effective July 1, Minnesota drivers will face tough new consequences if they are convicted of drinking and driving. These include longer time periods for revoked licenses. Under previous law, first-time offenders generally could lose their license for three months. In many cases however, the revoked license would allow for driving on a limited basis, such as for getting to and from court and work.
Effective July 1, drivers convicted of first-time DUI offenses who have a blood alcohol content of .16 percent or higher will lose their license for a minimum of one year, with no exceptions for driving to and from work or court. There is an alternative, however.
If the driver opts to use an ignition interlock device, then he or she could retain full driving privileges. Repeat offenders will be required to install the device in order to ever be able to drive in Minnesota again.
Ignition interlock devices prevent the operation of a vehicle if the driver has been drinking a certain level of alcohol. The device requires a driver to blow into a tube while he or she is driving at random intervals. The Minnesota program also requires a camera to establish that the convicted driver is the one who is actually blowing into the tube.
Proponents hope that the use of these devices will:
- Keep streets safer
- Allow people who have previously been convicted of DWI to drive legally
- Help deter drinking and driving
On the other hand, some argue that ignition interlock devices are impractical. They complain that it is distracting for drivers to blow into the tube at random intervals. In addition, the fines and costs associated with the use of these devices are substantial, including a yearlong, non-revocable insurance policy, an installation fee of $100 and a monthly service fee of $100.
In our next post, we will discuss a Minnesota driver who has been convicted of drunk driving three times and his experience with the ignition interlock device.
Source: Marshall Independent, “Ignition device added tool to curb drunken driving,” Amy Forliti, 5 July 2011