DISCLAIMER: Leverson Budke does not offer assistance for the Ignition Interlock program in any way. We’ve compiled this comprehensive guide for the Minnesota Ignition Interlock program as a service to our clients, however this is purely informational. We are unable to assist you in any capacity with the planning, process or implementation of Minnesota’s ignition interlock program. With that said we hope this guide will help you navigate the ignition interlock process, choose an ignition interlock device, and enroll in the program.
Minnesota Ignition Interlock Guide
Receiving a DWI in Minnesota can be a frightening event. Depending on the level of the violation, and many other factors, a felony DWI conviction can lead to severe fines and even jail time. If you have been charged with a DWI, Leverson Budke will help you navigate the pitfalls of the Minnesota DWI process, and vigorously represent you throughout the court proceedings, however some convictions are unavoidable. Perhaps you have avoided jail time, but hefty fines can put you in a financial hole. We understand that losing your driver’s license will only compound your problems, because it will be difficult to get to work when you can’t drive. Not everyone and not every place of employment is located on a bus or light rail route. Fortunately, in some instances there is a potential alternative to losing your driving privileges after being convicted of DWI. If you enroll in the ignition interlock MN program, you can maintain some of your driving privileges with some stipulations. Read on to learn more about the Minnesota ignition interlock program enrollment process, the rules and guidelines for approval, and much more about the installation of your ignition interlock device and how to use it.
What is an ignition interlock?
Under the ignition interlock MN program, an ignition interlock device or IID is a system that is installed in the car of a driver convicted of DWI to prevent future drinking and driving. The ignition interlock device is installed next to the steering wheel and connected to the car’s engine by an ignition interlock installation professional. It consists of a mouthpiece, a handheld device, and a cord connecting the device to the car’s ignition. It also includes a camera that is attached to the dashboard. The camera is aimed at the driver and assures that someone else other than the driver does not blow into the mouthpiece. Simply put, the driver blows into the device, and it determines the driver’s Breath Alcohol Concentration or BAC, and if the alcohol percentage is below Minnesota’s impaired limit, it allows the car to start. In case the driver doesn’t pass given test, the vehicle will not start until a successful test is completed. Minnesota ignition interlock system is also designed to collect air samples while the automobile is frequently moving. Ignition interlock devices are designed to avert attempts of fooling the system by getting a sober driver to restart the car’s engine. Any violations are recorded by the IID electronically and periodic reports are sent to Minnesota’s Department of Public Safety.
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What is the ignition interlock MN program?
The ignition interlock MN program is governed by the ignition interlock MN statute, which is contained in section 171.306 of the 2018 Minnesota Revised Statutes. You don’t need to wade through the statute itself to learn about the ignition interlock MN program. You may want to visit “Minnesota Ignition Interlock Device Program: Program Guidelines” published by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, which is available online. Since July 1st, 2011, as per the Minnesota Department of Driver & Vehicle Services, all first-time BAC offenders above 0.16 percent (double the state’s legal limit) in addition to every second-time offenders should be offered the alternative of applying an ignition interlock device as the privilege for immediate driving. Minnesota’s Ignition Interlock program operates by granting drivers a limited driver’s license instead of completely revoking their driving privileges for an extended period of time. The ignition interlock program is an extra benefit for those seeking to drive their vehicles to get to and from school, work, or pick up their children. Instead of being wholly denied access to their car, the IID program permits Minnesotans to proceed to function in a relatively normal fashion.
How does the ignition interlock device work?
Once the IID has been installed by an installation specialist and you have been trained in its use, you will need to blow into the device every time you want to start the car. You must sit in the driver’ seat so that the camera can confirm your identity. If your Blood Alcohol Content is below the legal limit under Minnesota state law, which is 0.08, the vehicle will start. If you fail the test, you may try again after five minutes has passed however, the vehicle will not start until you pass the test. Under the rules of the ignition interlock MN program, failures will be reported to the authorities. Note that the aforementioned rule implies that you do not need to be entirely abstinent to pass the test. You should also note that this rule does not allow you to violate any court ordered abstinence or any other court ordered program such as AA that you might be enrolled in. Drinking responsibly or not drinking at all is a personal choice and one not mandated by the ignition interlock MN program. In addition to passing the test initially and starting the car, you will be required to blow into the ignition interlock device at random times while driving. This is meant to deter people from drinking while they drive, after they have gotten their car started. The ignition interlock device will emit a “beep,” while the vehicle is moving and you will be required to take the test in order to continue using your car. A failure of this random test will have the same impact as a failure to pass the test when starting your vehicle. If you are concerned that a failure to pass the random test while driving will cause the vehicle’s engine to shut down, don’t worry. The vehicles engine will not immediately turn off. Nevertheless, you may wish to pull over to take the test to avoid distracted driving and potential accidents.
What are the required procedures to enter the ignition interlock MN program?
There are complicated procedures for those who wish to enter the ignition interlock MN program, but they are not insurmountable. To help our DWI clients navigate the complexities of the ignition interlock MN program, we’ve developed a comprehensive checklist for you to use throughout the process and help you enroll in Minnesota’s ignition interlock program. Some of the items on Leverson and Budke’s Ignition Interlock Program Checklist include:
- Provide a receipt for the payment of the $680 reinstatement fee
- Provide proof of age. You should be 18-year old or above to be eligible for a driver’s license
- Provide a receipt for the application fee for a new instruction permit or new Class D driver’s license
- Provide proof of a valid automobile insurance policy covering you for 12 months
- The vehicle you wish to equip with the ignition interlock device needs to be a car, van or pickup-style truck. Larger vehicles and motorcycles are not eligible for the ignition interlock program
- Will other persons, such as a spouse or children, be operating the vehicle? The quick answer is “Yes”. However all potential drivers need to be trained to use the ignition interlock device itself before operating your vehicle. They will also need to pass all Ignition Interlock BAC tests, just as you would before and during their drive.
- Will the DWI driver be operating a work vehicle? (Other rules may apply)
- Have you completed all the required MN interlock forms required by the MN Department of Public Safety, as needed for the ignition interlock MN program?
What is the best ignition interlock device?
If you’re approved for the MN Ignition Interlock program, you must select an authorized ignition interlock company. The selection of your ignition interlock device company is important, because not only will the company install the equipment, but they will train all the potential users (as noted above all drivers of the vehicle with the ignition interlock installed will be required to use it to start the car), and you will need to return to the company for maintenance and calibration every 30 or 60 days (depending on the particular brand of equipment). Finally, pricing is set by the individual ignition interlock device provider, not the State of Minnesota, so prices and other costs, such as potential insurance and costs to lease your IID can vary. There are a number of reputable ignition interlock companies that can provide the necessary equipment and monthly monitoring to choose from. The ignition interlock device company Intoxalock is highly regarded. Intoxalock is a national ignition interlock provider and has more than 2,500 locations throughout the nation. They have multiple Minnesota locations, including many in the St. Paul area. Another ignition interlock device company approved to install and monitor IID systems under the ignition interlock MN program is Smart Start MN. Smart Start MN is an Ignition Interlock company with locations throughout the state of Minnesota, including a convenient location in St. Paul.
What is the best ignition interlock device for the ignition interlock MN program?
This is an individual decision, and you should consider all your options. Select an MN ignition interlock device company that feels right to you. Regardless of which ignition interlock provider you select, the IID provider will install the equipment required under the ignition interlock Minnesota program. The provider will also instruct you how to use the device properly. The provider will also teach any other driver of the car, such as a spouse or child, how to use the Minnesota ignition interlock because once the system is installed the car will only start after a successful breath test, regardless of who the driver is. In addition, the provider will provide scheduled service and calibration of the Minnesota ignition interlock device. The device will need to be serviced and calibrated periodically for a real-time reporting. After you have successfully completed the ignition interlock program you will return the equipment to the same provider.
What does the ignition interlock MN cost?
There are a number of things that factor into determining the ignition interlock MN cost. Entry into the program starts with the $680 reinstatement fee. Under the ignition interlock MN program, all costs are determined by the device’s provider. These costs will include installation, the equipment rental, possible insurance of the device, and the costs of the service and calibration appointments. If you are unsure if you can afford the added costs associated with the ignition interlock program a reduced fee option is available. To qualify the driver must fall below 150% of the poverty level and complete a “Reduced Fee for Ignition Interlock Service and Monitoring” form which is available online.
What happens if someone fails an ignition interlock test?
Obviously a failed ignition interlock test initially prevents the driver’s car from starting. In the instance you do NOT pass the ignition interlock blood alcohol content test, you will need to wait five minutes before you can attempt it again, and you will be required to retake the test within ten minutes. Failure to retake the test or a second failure is reported as ignition interlock violations to the state of Minnesota. Under the interlock MN program, a violation typically extends the time that the DWI driver must remain on the ignition interlock MN program. The first failed ignition interlock test can extend the end of the program by 90 days. Subsequent violations can extend the program even further. If you have a driver’s license in Minnesota and you’ve been found guilty of DWI, you may want to look into what it takes to enroll in the ignition interlock program. However, please note that your car will not start if your blood alcohol content is above .02 – which is the equivalent of approximately one drink. Another big consideration for some people is the fact that many times you will be required to blow into the IID every 15 and 30 minutes when driving. This is sometimes a deterrent for those that don’t like frequent interruptions while driving.
What are other MN ignition interlock violations?
There are a number of potential ways to violate the ignition interlock MN program in addition to failing to pass the IID BAC breathalyzer test. They are outlined in the Minnesota statute and the “Minnesota Ignition Interlock Device Program: Program Guidelines.” For the first offense for the following violations, 180 days is added to the program; for the second offense one year is added to the program; and for the third and all subsequent offenses, 545 days are added to the length of the program. These include:
- Tampering with, circumventing or bypassing the device (the camera system makes it easy to catch a driver that attempts to have anyone else take the test)
- Operating a vehicle not equipped with a certified ignition interlock device (if you own and expect to drive more than one vehicle to be sure to make this information known; your new sobriety might make you a “designated driver” at some point, and should not drive someone home in their vehicle)
- Violation of the ignition interlock limited license
- For drivers who have had their minnesota driving privileges revoked, the failure to provide no fewer than thirty initial breath tests each month to prove sobriety (even if you don’t drive thirty times) is considered a violation.
- Failure to bring your vehicle in for required service and calibration appointment is a violation. (every 30 or 60 days depending on the ignition interlock equipment)
For revoked drivers, an alcohol reading of .02 or greater results in the addition of 90 days to the revocation period. For canceled drivers, an alcohol reading of .02 or greater requires that the driver should re-enroll in the program and commence the revocation over. A new set of forms must be submitted to enroll in the ignition interlock program again.
What types of vehicles can an ignition interlock device be installed on?
The IID apparatus can be attached and installed on any non-commercial, personal use vehicles. Vans or pickup trucks that have function with an ordinary Class D drivers license, that do not require any additional endorsements are allowed. Nevertheless, it is very important to note that the IID device can not be installed on recreational vehicles, rental cars, scooters, or motorcycles.
How to Enter the MN Ignition Interlock Program?
Perhaps you would like to enter Minnesota’s ignition interlock program to get a restricted license and start driving again. The good news is that people do it every day. You just need to meet specific guidelines and fill out the required paperwork, and essentially jump through a few hoops. Here are some steps you can take to start the process of entering the MN ignition interlock program. 1. Have valid insurance on the vehicle where the ignition interlock device will be installed. 2. Pass the MN DWI knowledge test given by the state of Minnesota. 3. Apply to acquire a new limited license. 4. Pay the $680 license reinstatement fee and be sure to hold on to the receipt. 5. Fill out the necessary forms with the Minnesota Department of Public Safety and Driver & Vehicle Services. 6. Schedule an appointment with a licensed ignition interlock device vendor and get the device professionally installed on your car.
How long is the Ignition Interlock Program?
The amount of time an individual will be required to enroll in the ignition interlock program often times is dependent upon the quantity of prior DWI convictions on the criminal record of the individual. Another factor that is often taken into account is the level of intoxication at the time of the arrest of the individual in question. When you initially sign up for the ignition interlock program, the enrollee will be offered information concerning the amount of time needed to participate in the program. If you violate the terms of the MN ignition interlock program more time will be added.
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Ignition Interlock Device for Reduced Lung Capacity
With approval from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, ignition interlock companies can modify the IID to accommodate participants suffering from reduced lung capacity. The MN DPS can give the go-ahead on a case-by-case basis. If you would like to be considered to recieve a modified IID for reduced lung capacity the participant will be required to give a written note to the Minnesota DPS Driver and Vehicle Services, which includes the following:
- Participant’s name
- Participant’s address
- Participant’s drivers license number
- Name of the ignition interlock device company
- Licensed physician documentation explaining and verifying the degree of participant’s reduced lung capability. The letter should incorporate Forced Vital Capacity and participant’s lung capacity.
Depending on the person’s circumstances, DWI in Minnesota may be a felony or misdemeanor. Penalties may be different dependent upon the seriousness of the crime. Additional penalties may include:
- Community service
- Jail time
- Home detention or electronic monitoring
- Intensive supervised probation
- Seizure of your vehicle
- Remote electronic alcohol controlling
- Enrollment in IID program
- Intensive supervision for repeat offenders
- Chemical dependency evaluation
- License revocation
What to Expect When Setting up an Appointment with an Ignition Interlock Company?
To start with, you’ll need to get a person drive you and your car to the installation appointment. After the equipment is professionally installed, you may drive any place you wish. It usually takes around an hour to install the ignition interlock device in your vehicle. This includes the time it will take your ignition interlock device technician to install the Electronic Control Unit (ECU) to the starter of the vehicle. In addition, the IID technician will also need to calibrate the equipment and train you how to use the IID appropriately. Before leaving, the ignition interlock company will be sure that you have a clear understanding of the meaning of all the messages and sounds. A user’s manual is usually provided as well.
IID Maintenance Appointments
During the initial install of your ignition interlock appointment, your IID technician will normally schedule your first maintenance appointment. Monthly maintenance visits are required by Minnesota state law to ensure your ignition interlock device is properly calibrated and in good working order. During every visit, the technician inspects and recalibrates the equipment as required by the state of Minnesota DPS. The ignition interlock device company will also transmit the recorded data to Minnesota DPS (Department of Public Safety). These monthly maintenance appointments are usually pretty quick, lasting about 20 minutes or less.
Ignition Interlock Voluntary Withdrawal
A participant who wishes to willingly withdrawing from the IID program, will need to sign the Voluntary Withdrawal form. You can get the form on the Minnesota Driver and Vehicle Services website.
The ignition interlock MN program sounds complicated because it is. However, the ability to continue driving due to the existence of the ignition interlock program can be a lifesaver for folks that have been found guilty of DWI that want to keep their job, and some shred of normalcy while moving through the DWI process. Many times the ignition interlock program can mean the difference between keeping your job or losing it.