MN Ignition Interlock Program

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Minnesota now has an ignition interlock program for those people who lose their drivers licenses because of various levels of DWI convictions, or the loss of their driver’s license because of an over .08 blood alcohol reading or a refusal to give a test. The program is voluntary so no Judge or Driver’s License Bureau can force one into the program. The program is somewhat expensive and intrusive so it won’t work for all who find their drivers license taken away from them by state for an alcohol related matter. It can be a workable option, however, because one can get a license after only 30 days of cancellation regardless of why one lost their license. These licenses can have limitations or restrictions depending on the driver’s circumstances. In the past it could be even one year or more before one could get a license of any kind. There is a good explanation of the program at www.minnesotaignitioninterlock.org.

While the website has a lot of good information to help someone who wants to look into this program, I would suggest that one should also contact his/her attorney because of how the ignition interlock interplays with other punishments and sanctions for a DUI related matter. Any person faced with this license problem needs to be aware of all of the options. One of the main issues is the cost of the system. Anyone who wants to get their license back will always have to pay a reinstatement fee that is currently $680. In addition they will have to pay a small application fee that varies between counties. The actual installation cost for the interlock system varies between vendors but there is an installation fee of some $100, monthly maintenance fees of between $60-125, a lockout fee of $50 should that be done and a removal fee of $50. Rates are subject to differences between vendors, and subject to change.

One’s license when on the interlock system can have limitations such as times to drive and etc just like the existing system and there will also be restrictions; the most significant is the interlock ignition itself.

If one has prior DWI related convictions or drivers license cancellation(s) the interlock license can have additional limitations for even 1-4 years before it would transcend to only the restrictions inherent in the interlock system. Those restrictions include signing an interlock participation agreement, and monthly calibration meetings with the vendor to harvest the data from the devise to check for violations, the signed agreement by you makes you responsible for any misuse of the system. The longest period of time one could be on the interlock system is 6 years under current laws.

If the violation is the second, or more alcohol related incident for the driver there will be other restrictions on getting into the interlock system. The most significant may prove to be the provision that requires all outstanding court (fines) or child support fees to be paid before one is eligible to get on the system. It’s not clear if this includes restitution. In addition, if one has had a prior driver’s license cancellation for inimical reasons enrollment in a treatment program will be required. One will have to have interlocks on any vehicle they will be driving, and anyone using the vehicle will need to be trained on how to use the device. All interlock vehicles will have to be properly insured.

The device is relatively small, and attaches to your steering column. It does not take much to run so it should have no major effect on the mechanics of your motor vehicle. It is a breath analyzer device that is designed to prevent someone from starting the vehicle if their blood alcohol is over a designated amount. That could be a zero tolerance level if one of the drivers condition is no use of alcohol. It has a rolling retest requirement which is designed to prevent from having someone other than the operator give the initial sample test. It has been in use in other states for a number of years so the supporters feel that is ready for use in Minnesota. Any attempt to “trick” the device is a crime as well as an automatic termination from the program.

The system, while expensive should prove to be a workable option for those drivers who would otherwise be looking at a long period of time i.e. 1-3years without any type of license. It may not be as usable for those with less time on driver’s license limitations such as the first or even second time offenders are facing. It will also provide for fewer limitations on ones license. It is hoped that it will prevent careless future illegal use of ones vehicle, and help prevent more long term problems with the license of some repeat type offenders by helping prevent repeat offenses. It could even save a driver money by not having to relay on other means of transportation i.e. cabs, other drivers and the like.

We encourage you to contact us for any questions, or for help in getting into the ignition interlock system. As always, please call us if you or friend and family are faced with any alcohol related charges or problems.

~ Jon P. Erickson
Attorney at Law

About Jon P. Erickson

Jon Erickson is Of-Counsel at BGS and the Practice Group Leader for Consumer law (PI, Family, Wills/Estate Planning and Criminal Defense). Jon has been the recipient of honors and awards as a criminal defense specialist; including the highest rating given by a national publication, a “Super Lawyer” designation. In January 2012, Jon was named a Certified Criminal Law Specialist by the Minnesota State Bar Association. This certified specialist designation is earned by less than 3% of all Minnesota licensed attorneys.

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