If you’re familiar with DWI cases in Minnesota, you’ve probably heard of an ignition interlock system. The device requires DWI offenders to take a breathalyzer test to prove sobriety before starting their car. The system is used for first-time DWI offenders who test higher than 0.16 blood alcohol content (BAC) at the time of arrest or second-time offenders automatically.
The ignition interlock device allows DWI offenders to maintain driving privileges while providing a path to rehabilitation. With 11,000 current users of ignition interlock in Minnesota, the program has flourished since its implementation in 2011, but not without controversy.
Potential changes coming
A lawsuit filed in late November by a device manufacturer alleges that law enforcement can use the ignition interlock devices to track the location of its users. The manufacturer says the use of GPS tracking is a violation of Constitutional rights and has asked lawmakers to suspend the device requirement for DWI offenders until the monitoring is limited.
Meanwhile, state lawmakers plan to introduce a bill that will prohibit the use of GPS in ignition interlock devices. A legislative hearing is already scheduled for January when the 2017 session begins.
When the law to require ignition interlock was implemented in 2011, it was granted an exception from a public hearing as is usually required when a law affecting the Department of Public Safety is enacted. Now, the lawsuit and legislative hearing will allow for redress of grievances since brought on by alleged GPS surveillance of ignition interlock users.
If you are arrested in Minnesota for DWI with a 0.16 BAC or higher, you could face gross misdemeanor charges carrying a maximum criminal penalty of one year in jail and/or a $3,000 fine. A conviction could also lead to an administrative penalty of one year of no driving privileges, one year of ignition interlock and one year of impounded license plates.
Trying to find a balance
Changes to the ignition interlock requirements could leave people facing DWI convictions without an alternative to regaining driving privileges. Is there a balance to be struck between an individual’s right to privacy and the public’s need for justice following a DWI?
The answer to that question will draw strong emotional responses from all parties involved. Each case is different for both the offender and the potential victims. Often, one-size fits all laws do not accommodate the nuances of an individual case, which is why you need the representation of DWI defense attorney following an arrest.