New Minnesota DWI Law Signed by Governor

Governor Tim Pawlenty signed legislation calling for mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device for certain Minnesota DWI offenders. The new law allows those convicted of driving while intoxicated in Minnesota to recover their driving privileges if they agree to install the special device. An ignition interlock acts as a small breath tester, and a driver must provide a breath sample before starting the vehicle. If the sample exhibits alcohol above a pre-set limit, the ignition will become disabled and the vehicle will not start for a set period of time. The device also requires periodic retesting to prohibit a motorist from having someone else provide a breath sample.

Under the new Minnesota DWI law, drunk driving offenders who register a blood alcohol content at or above .16% (twice the legal limit) will be required to install an ignition interlock. Those who opt for the interlock device will have their full driving privileges restored immediately. Those who do not will have their driving privileges suspended for a period of 1 to 6 years, depending on the degree of the offense and other factors. Repeat offenders with three or more DWI arrests in Minnesota in a 10-year period will also be required to install the device.

Minnesota started an ignition interlock pilot program in mid-2009 that allowed more than 1000 motorists convicted of DWI in MN to regain their driver’s licenses.

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety hopes the new measure will reduce the number of chronic drunk drivers on state roads, in turn reducing alcohol related traffic fatalities.

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