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Ignition Interlock Helps prevent Repeat DWIs in Minnesota

The ignition interlock program in Minnesota is showing some rather significant success with less than 1 percent of drunken driving offenders in the state becoming re-offenders after the entire state adopted the program.

The results were released on August 21, 2013 by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety.

As it stands, 10,644 DWI offenders have used the device since the program began in July 2011. Of those numbers, 3,283 of them have graduated the program because they used the device for the entire time that was ordered and did not reoffend.

Currently, 7,381 people throughout the state are using the device.

The ignition interlock device works via a connection to the vehicle’s starter. The driver is required to blow into the device before they can ever start the car. The device measures whether or not there is any alcohol within the individuals system. If the blood alcohol content is above .02 percent, the car will not start and the information is recorded so it can be transmitted to the monitoring authority.

Interlock devices have proven to be very effective in keeping past DWI offenders from becoming repeat offenders. At the same time, impaired driving is seeing a decrease and that makes the driving environment a much safer one for the public.

During the first weekend of the current Minnesota DWI enforcement campaign, which was August 16-18, authorities arrested over 425 people throughout the state for suspected drunken driving. Several of these individuals were at or over .16, which is twice the legal limit and that makes them eligible for the ignition interlock device. The alternative is to face at least a year without driving privileges.

It is expected that as many as 21,000 DWI offenders will be eligible for the interlock device during the course of a year. The cost of having the interlock can be up to $4 per day.

Some of the features to this device include rolling re-tests, which means that the driver may have to provide a breath sample three to five minutes after they start the vehicle and at random points afterward. There are also in-car cameras, which record the breath tests and even show that the person blowing into the device is the driver. The third feature is that users must have the device calibrated each month by a qualified service provider who will run a report that shows how many times the vehicle has been started, how many rolling re-tests have been performed, and if there are any test fails. Lastly, service providers send these reports to the Department of Public Safety for review. If the DPS finds that there is an issue, they will extend sanctions or take another action.