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NEWS RELEASE

Bruce Gordon, Director of Communications
CONTACT:
Nathan Bowie  (651) 201-7571
nathan.bowie@state.mn.us
 
 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 28, 2012
One Year Since Interlock Law: DPS Urges DWI Offenders to Use Device for Sober, Legal Driving

ST. PAUL — Increased DWI patrols are slated for this weekend, nearly one year since enhanced impaired driving sanctions became effective in Minnesota, which includes the use of ignition 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.  

Each year in Minnesota, 40 percent of the alcohol-related traffic deaths involve repeat offenders.

Since July 1, 2011, 2,796 eligible DWI offenders have joined the interlock program, a figure Department of Public Safety (DPS) officials hope will grow as more offenders see its benefits — specifically, legal driving privileges.

“Interlock benefits Minnesota’s road safety by ensuring offenders are driving sober, while also providing offenders with a pathway to legal driving,” says Jean Ryan, DPS impaired driving programs coordinator. “This technology helps to support those impacted and improve public safety.”

Ryan adds a main goal of interlock is to prevent impaired driving and reduce DWI re-offenses — of the 2,796 interlock users, 2 percent have reoffended. U.S. DOT studies that show 70 percent of DWI offenders drive illegally after arrest. The Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation reports interlock devices can reduce repeat DWI offenses on average 64 percent.Offenders interested in using interlock may visit www.MinnesotaIgnitionInterlock.org.

Last year, 111 people were killed in alcohol-impaired crashes (crashes involving drivers or pedestrians with a 0.08 alcohol-concentration, representing 30 percent of the state’s total 368 traffic deaths. In 2011, 29,257 motorists are arrested for DWI.

This weekend, increased DWI patrols will be in the state’s 13 counties that accounted for nearly half of the state’s alcohol-related deaths (202) and half of the state’s serious injuries (462) during 2008–2010. The top-ranked counties for alcohol-related deaths and serious injuries: Hennepin, Ramsey, Anoka, St. Louis, Dakota, Wright, Olmsted, Rice, Washington, Stearns, Sherburne, Scott and Carver.

How Interlock Works

Ignition interlock is installed under a vehicle’s dashboard and connected to the starter. Users must provide a breath sample into the interlock, which requires an alcohol concentration below 0.02 in order for the vehicle to start. 

Interlock Anti-Circumvention Features

  • “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.

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.
 
In the nation, 32 states including Minnesota use ignition interlock for first-time DWI offenders. 
 
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 traffic safety initiative.

Recent OTS Activity
  • OTS issued the 2011 Minnesota Motor Vehicle Crash Facts report, citing 368 traffic deaths for the year, the lowest since 1944 and a 44 percent reduction in deaths from a decade ago.

  • A May 21–June 3 statewide, increased seat belt enforcement campaign resulted in 12,639 seat belt citations.

  • OTS released a study conducted by the University of Minnesota that found the primary seat belt law has resulted in 68 fewer deaths since the law was enacted nearly three years ago.

  • OTS is coordinating a pilot program for parent-teen driver awareness courses, to educate parents about their responsibilities to train and monitor their new teen driver.

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