Ignition Interlock Helps Prevent DWI Reoffenders in MN
Photo: MGN Online
Less than 1 percent of drunken driving offenders in Minnesota - who have used or are currently using ignition interlock - have reoffended since the program's statewide inception.
Those results were released Wednesday, Aug. 21, by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety.
So far, 10,644 DWI offenders have used ignition interlock since the program started July 2011. Of those numbers, 3,283 people have graduated from the program by using the device for the required time without reoffending.
There are currently 7,381 people using the ignition interlock in the state.
Ignition interlock devices work by being connected to a vehicle's starter. The driver has to blow into the device, which measures alcohol content. If the alcohol content is above .02, the car won't 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," said Donna Berger, office of traffic safety director, in a statement. "In turn, this technology is cutting down on impaired driving and creating a safer driving environment for the traveling public."
A statewide DWI enforcement campaign is currently under way through Labor Day.
During its first weekend - Aug. 16-18 - authorities arrested 425 people statewide for suspected drunken driving. Several people were at or above an alcohol-concentration level of .16, making them eligible for interlock, according to state officials.
Repeat DWI offenders and first-time offenders arrested with an alcohol-concentration level of .16 and above must use interlock to regain legal driving privileges. Without interlock, the person could face at least a year without a driver's license.
Offenders with three or more offenses are required to install interlock and use it for three to six years, or they can never regain their driving privileges, according to state officials.
Officials expect 21,000 DWI offenders to be eligible for interlock sanctions during a given year. Cost of an interlock is $3 to $4 a day. Minnesota is part of 32 states that use ignition interlock for first-time DWI offenders.
Some of the device's features are:
- "Rolling re-tests," which require drivers to provide a breath sample three to five minutes after starting the vehicle, and randomly thereafter.
- In-car cameras, which record all breath tests. Video and test results are available for the Department Public Safety to monitor.
- Specific hum or "suck back" patterns are 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, which is an alcohol-concentration limit of 0.02 or above.
- Service providers will send reports to the Department of Public Safety for review and to take appropriate action or extend sanctions.