The freedom to drive is often taken for granted. Imagining a world without the ability to travel at ease may seem more like a bad dream to most. But for about 30,000 people statewide who are charged with driving while intoxicated each year, this nightmare quickly becomes reality.
After receiving a DWI, an individual’s driving privileges can be revoked for 90 days to more than 6 years. Even after losing their license, many individuals continue to drive illegally. However, on July 1st, these drivers may have a legal opportunity to drive sooner, and safer.
Starting July 1st, ignition interlock devices will be required in vehicles of Minnesota drivers who want to regain driving privileges sooner. Until recently, drivers could request the installation of these devices, but come July, they will be mandatory for first offenders who had a blood-alcohol level of .16 or higher, and repeat DWI offenders who wish to drive.
So what exactly is an ignition interlock device? This pocket size device is connected to the vehicle’s electrical system. Before the vehicle can be started, the driver must blow into the device, like a breathalyzer. If an alcohol level of 0.02 or higher is detected, the vehicle will not start. After the engine has been started, the interlock device will require another breath sample randomly. If a breath sample is not provided or exceeds the allowed level, the device will log it and the driver will be warned.
Installation of these devices provides legal opportunities to drive and while avoiding the occurrence of a future DWI and consequences. Most importantly, by strengthening the MN DWI laws with this device, safer roads can be enjoyed by all.