Minnesota enhances DWI penalties

| 8/19/2010

A new law in Minnesota is intended to reduce the number of impaired drivers on roadways in the state. Starting July 1, 2011, it will strengthen sanctions for driving while intoxicated.

Certain first-time DWI offenders and repeat DWI offenders will have the option of getting a breath-activated ignition device installed in their vehicle. The other option is to lose driving privileges for a full and increased revocation period.

Interlocks are hooked up to the ignition of vehicles. Once such a device is installed, a driver must blow into a mouthpiece, which measures the amount of alcohol on a person’s breath. If the driver blows clean, the car will then start; if not, it won’t budge.

“Ignition interlocks have been demonstrated to change the behavior and reduce future DWI’s, along with holding offenders accountable for their actions,” Sen. Steve Murphy, DFL-Red Wing, said in a statement. “It’s just common sense to move forward with this opportunity to save lives.”

First-time offenders with a blood-alcohol limit of at least 0.16 percent – twice the legal limit of 0.08 percent – will be required to have ignition interlocks to drive. Repeat offenders must also use the device.

In addition, first-time offenders with alcohol concentrations lower than 0.16 percent will have the choice of obtaining a limited driver’s license or getting a broader license with the requirement that an ignition interlock device must be installed on their vehicle.

Offenders with blood-alcohol readings of at least 0.16 percent will face longer revocation periods. A reading of at least 0.20 percent has been required for longer revocations.

Offenders will be required to pay about $100 each month to cover the cost of the program.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Minnesota, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor

Editor’s Note: Please share your thoughts with us about the legislation included in this story. Comments may be sent to statelegislativedesk@ooida.com.