ST. PAUL, Minn. — Less than 1 percent of the 10,664 DWI offenders in Minnesota who have used or are currently using ignition interlock have reoffended since the program’s statewide inception in July 2011, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety.
To date, 3,283 people have graduated from the interlock program—meaning, they used the device for the required period without reoffending. There are currently 7,381 people using ignition interlock in Minnesota.
Ignition interlock devices are connected to a vehicle’s starter. The only way a driver can start the vehicle is by blowing into the device and measuring an alcohol content under 0.02. If the alcohol content is at 0.02 or above, the car will not start and the information will be recorded and later transmitted to the monitoring authority.
“Interlock devices are proving to be effective tools that are keeping the vast majority of past DWI offenders from repeating their mistakes,” says Donna Berger, Office of Traffic Safety director. “In turn, this technology is cutting down on impaired driving and creating a safer driving environment for the traveling public.”
As the interlock program continues to limit the amount of DWI reoffenders on Minnesota roads, law enforcement around the state continue a nationwide DWI enforcement crackdown scheduled to run through Labor Day. Law enforcement statewide arrested 425 for DWI during the first weekend of activity (Aug. 16-18), including several at or above an alcohol-concentration level of 0.16, making them eligible for interlock.
Who Is Eligible for Interlock
Repeat DWI offenders, as well as first-time offenders arrested at 0.16 and above alcohol-concentration level must use interlock in order to regain legal driving privileges, or face at least one year without a driver’s license. Offenders with three or more offenses are required to install interlock and use for three to six years, or they will never regain driving privileges.
Based on historical data, officials expect around 21,000 DWI offenders to be eligible for interlock sanctions during a given year. Cost of an interlock is $3-$4 per day.
There are 32 states—including Minnesota—that use ignition interlock for first-time DWI offenders.
- “Rolling re-tests” require driver to provide a breath sample three to five minutes after starting the vehicle, and randomly thereafter.
- In-car cameras record all breath tests. Video and test results are available for DPS to monitor.
- Specific hum or “suck back” patterns required when providing breath sample.
- Users are required to have the interlock calibrated monthly by a service provider. Service providers will run reports that indicate how many times the vehicle started, number of rolling re-tests, and any test fails (an alcohol-concentration limit of 0.02 or above). Service providers will send reports to DPS for review and to take appropriate action or extend sanctions.
For more information on the ignition interlock program, visit www.MinnesotaIgnitionInterlock.org.
About the Minnesota Department Public Safety
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) comprises 11 divisions where 2,100 employees operate programs in the areas of law enforcement, crime victim assistance, traffic safety, alcohol and gambling, emergency communications, fire safety, pipeline safety, driver licensing, vehicle registration and emergency management. DPS activity is anchored by three core principles: education, enforcement and prevention.
About the Office of Traffic Safety
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) designs, implements and coordinates federally funded traffic safety enforcement and education programs to improve driver behaviors and reduce the deaths and serious injuries that occur on Minnesota roads. OTS also administers state funds for the motorcycle safety program and for the child seats for needy families program.
OTS is an anchoring partner of the state’s Toward Zero Deaths (TZD) traffic safety initiative. A primary vision of the TZD program is to create a safe driving culture in Minnesota in which motorists support a goal of zero road fatalities by practicing and promoting safe and smart driving behavior. TZD focuses on the application of four strategic areas to reduce crashes — education, enforcement, engineering and emergency trauma response.