New Minnesota DWI Laws: The Ignition Interlock Device

December 9th, 2010


We previously wrote about new legislation passed by Governor Tim Pawlenty that strengthens Minnesota DWI laws.  Specifically we discussed the administrative penalties which are the periods of time that a DWI offender would lose their license. While the penalties may be harsh, Minnesota’s new legislation does attempt to find a common ground between road safety and the need for people to be able to drive.

It appears the legislative intent  is not meant to punish DWI offenders, rather the purpose is to enhance road safety and decrease alcohol related crashes. Certain DWI offenders can choose to install an ignition interlock device in their car with full driving privileges rather than driving with a limited license or losing your license completely. An ignition interlock device is installed in a vehicle and requires a driver’s breath sample in order for the vehicle to start. The device is wired through the vehicles starting system and if the device detects an alcohol-concentration of .02 or more the vehicle will not start. Additionally the device requires random re-tests after the initial test and has features that deter others from starting the vehicle for the intended driver. The ignition interlock device creates the much needed common ground between road safety while at the same allowing people to use their vehicle.

A first time DWI offender will lose their license for three months and can either choose to drive with a limited license (work permit) after 15 days or drive with full privileges with the use of an ignition interlock device. The same conditional reinstatement rules apply to a first time DWI offender who refuses to take a chemical test, only that the revocation period is one year as opposed to three months.

The work permit however, is not available for more serious DWI offenders. A first time DWI offender with an alcohol-concentration of .16 or more or a second time DWI offender under a .16 will have their license revoked for one year without the ability to drive with a limited license. The only means of driving during the revocation period would have to be with the use of an ignition interlock device. A second time DWI offender who refuses to submit to a chemical test or has an alcohol-concentration of .16 or more will have their license revoked for a period of two years, however with the use of an ignition interlock device they can regain full driving privileges. A person who has received their third DWI within a ten year period will have their license canceled for three years and will not be eligible to reinstate their license without the use   of an ignition interlock device. Moreover, this would require one year of a limited license with the device and two years of full driving privileges with device.

Lastly, included in the new legislation are penalties for violations of the ignition interlock device program. Violations include: tampering with the device, operating another vehicle without a device, bypassing the device and having an alcohol-concentration of .02 or more. A first time violator will have their revocation period extended for 180 days, one year for a second time violator and 545 days for any subsequent violation. Beyond the extended revocation periods, it is a misdemeanor to bypass the device, drive an unauthorized vehicle and/or tamper with the device.

Minnesota DWI penalties are harsh and are only going to get more severe. If convicted, a DWI offender could face large fines and possibly jail time. For over 10 years Minnesota law makers have successfully fought to strengthen the penalties for DWI offenders. It goes without saying that a DWI charge is something that should be taken seriously and should be handled by consulting with an experienced Minnesota DWI Attorney.  Call the Attorneys at Kans Law Firm, LLC at (952) 835-6314.

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