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Impaired Driving Laws

Legal Limit — 0.08

  • Minnesota's legal alcohol-concentration driving limit is 0.08 — but motorists can be arrested for DWI at lower levels.

  • The consequences for driving impaired will vary for each DWI offender, but a typical penalty for a first-time offender is potential jail time and loss of license for a minimum of 30 days up to a year.

  • Costs can be as high as $20,000 when factoring court costs, legal fees and increased insurance premiums.

Impaired Driving statute — 169A 

 

Strengthened DWI Sanctions with Ignition Interlock 

Minnesota’s strengthened DWI sanctions aim to enhance road safety to prevent alcohol-related crashes that account for one-third of all Minnesota traffic deaths annually. The stronger DWI sanctions include use of ignition interlock to give DWI offenders a chance to regain driving privileges by ensuring safe and legal driving.

Ignition interlock is installed under the dashboard of the vehicle and connected to its starter. Users must provide a breath sample into the interlock with an alcohol concentration below 0.02 in order for the vehicle to start.

 

Highlights of Stronger DWI Sanctions Law and Ignition Interlock

  • First-time DWI offenders arrested at twice the legal limit and above (0.16 alcohol-concentration) and second-time DWI offenders will be required to use ignition interlock or lose driving privileges ranging from one to two years — depending on offense level.

  • DWI offenders with three or more offenses in a 10-year period will be required to use ignition interlock for a period of three to six years, or they will never regain driving privileges.

  • Offenders eligible to use interlock will regain full or limited driving privileges immediately after the offense, ensuring they are driving with a valid license and not a threat on the roadway.

  • The alcohol-concentration level when enhanced administrative sanctions are applied is lowered from 0.20 percent to 0.16. The average level for a DWI arrest is 0.15 percent.

  • The time-period for loss of driving privileges will double for many DWI offenders, but offenders that install ignition interlock will be able to drive immediately.

 

Interlock Anti-Circumvention Features

  • Interlocks have anti-circumvention features, such as rolling retests that require a driver to blow into the device three-five minutes after starting, and randomly thereafter. There also are specific hum or “suck back” patterns to prevent users from attempting to circumvent the testing process.

  • Unique to Minnesota’s interlock law is the requirement for in-car cameras that record all breath tests. Video and test results are provided to DPS for monitoring.

  • Users are required to have the interlock calibrated once a month by a service provider, Service providers also will run reports to 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 send the reports to DPS for review to take appropriate action or extend sanctions.

 

Benefits of Interlock

  • Interlock is primarily a tool to prevent impaired driving and enhance road safety. Consequently, interlock also will reduce the societal costs of impaired driving, including courts, law enforcement, probation and others.

  • Interlock creates a method for all offenders to obtain a valid driver's license — addressing the epidemic of people driving without a valid license.

  • Interlock encourages behavior modification and rehabilitation.

  • Interlock diminishes the probability and possibility of repeat DWI. The Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation reports interlock devices can reduce repeat DWI offenses on average 64 percent.