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What Is An Ignition Interlock?

A factor that goes along with DWI’s that most people are unaware of is the use of the interlock and what that could mean for their driving habits in the coming months or years after the offense.

What is an interlock?

A driving interlock is a device typically installed inside a vehicle after a DWI infraction. In order to start the vehicle, an individual must blow into a mouthpiece that will detect alcohol content (learn more about breathalyzers). If the alcohol content is above 0.02 or higher the ignition will not function properly. The use of an interlock can allow a driver to gain back their vehicle privileges sooner than if they waited out a specified timeframe by the court.

There are features that prevent circumvention around the interlock. Such features include blowing again into the device 3-5 minutes after initial ignition and then random blowing thereafter, alcohol detection above the determined level will cause the device to need to be recalibrated at a specific location, anti-suck back systems which prevent tricking the device, and users must calibrate the device once a month at a service provider who will also receive data from the device such as how many times the car started or any failed test.

How does a person get an interlock in Minnesota?

As of July 1st, 2011, interlocks are required for first time DWI offenders arrested at twice the legal limit (.16 blood alcohol concentration) or second-time DWI offenders. Minnesota is also unique because the interlock system requirement mandates car cameras that record the breath test. Interlock installation requirements vary depending on the individual’s sentence and history. A first offense will typically require the installation of an interlock to receive driving privileges back. A second offense in ten years or third offense on the record usually requires the installation of an ignition interlock if the individual would like driving privileges back, typically two years with the device. A third offense in ten years or four or more offenses on the record will require the ignition interlock to be installed. However, under MN169A.275 a judge has discretion in sentencing and imposing the requirement of an interlock device.

As one continues to increase the severity their DUI offense levels the likelihood that their offense and driving privileges can be mitigated with an interlock decreases, in fact, the use of an interlock is not even mentioned in the penalties portion of the first degree driving while impaired statute. The interlock time installed in the vehicle may be extended for violations such as failing a breath test. MN Stat.169A.267. Interlocks can be installed and monitored by a number of providers. A quick search of local interlock providers showed the average cost of an interlock system installation cost between $75-$175 and a monthly operating cost of between $90-$120. There are ways in which one can apply for financial assistance for the device cost. Go to www.minnesotaignitioninterlock.org to see if you are eligible for a reduction of fees. Once the interlock is installed the service provider will contact the DVS and a restricted license will be issued to the driver.

How does the ignition interlock work?

The ignition interlock takes the breathalyzer system a step further by being connected directly into the car ignition and when a certain alcohol concentration is detected the car will be unable to start. Furthermore, a computer chip within the ignition interlock will transmit the results to the service provider.

Most people will not be able to blow into the device 30 minutes after one drink. An individual’s alcohol content depends on gender, weight, time passed between drinks, and the type of alcohol being consumed; but it is estimated that a 240-pound male would still blow a .02 level after just one drink. So, it follows that an individual with an interlock system would most likely be unable to have a drink at dinner and proceed to start their care thirty minutes later.

If you’ve been charged with driving under the influence of alcohol the criminal defense attorneys at Rinke Noonan are here to help you.

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