With as many public service announcements bemoaning drunk driving have aired during the holiday season, drinking and driving is still a problem in Minnesota and throughout the United States. However, a change in the law regarding the use of ignition interlock devices may be helping drivers think twice before getting behind the wheel.
According to a recent washingtonpost.com report, ignition interlock laws appear to be working. The article highlighted a study finding that traffic fatalities dropped by seven percent in states that require convicted drunk drivers to install ignition interlock devices. The study tracked fatalities during a five year period before states started requiring interlock devices.
Ignition interlock devices require an operator to blow into a tiny breathalyzer that registers the driver’s BAC. If it is below the legal limit, the car will start. If not, the car will not start. The devices cost between $70 and $150 and monthly monitoring services cost between $60 and $80.
Currently, twenty-two states require such devices for first time offenders. In Minnesota, first time DWI offenders with a BAC of .16 or above, as well as second time offenders may participate in the ignition interlock program as a way to get their licenses back. DWI offenders in these circumstances may have their licenses cancelled as a matter of law because they are considered “inimical to public safety” if they are behind the wheel.
Nevertheless, researchers believe that such laws are especially important given that nearly a third of all fatal car crashes in 2015 involved a legally drunk driver.
If you have a drunk driving conviction and are asked to use an ignition interlock device, an experienced criminal defense attorney can advise you.