Minn. Expands DWI Penalties and Programs

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty has signed into a law a series of reforms to the state DWI code, including broader sanctions and a few opportunities for new and repeat offenders, KDLH reported May 18.

Effective July 1, 2011, drivers found with a 0.16 percent or higher blood alcohol concentration (BAC) must install ignition interlock systems  – devices that require the driver to have less than a .02 BAC in order to start their vehicle – or face license suspensions of one to six years.

Persons with three or more infractions in a ten-year period would be required to have an interlock for monitoring and prevention, or not drive at all.

The law does allow DWI offenders to drive immediately following their offense provided they have the device. Minnesota joins more than 40 other states that have implemented some kind of ignition-interlock legislation.

Tougher sanctions combined with interlock incentives would reduce impaired driving, curb the number of DWI offenders who drive without licenses, and ultimately save lives, according to Commissioner Michael Campion of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety. Reports from the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation found that ignition interlocks can reduce DWI recidivism by 45 to 90 percent.

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