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Minnesota DWI Laws
What is Ignition Interlock Device?
An ignition interlock is a small device with a camera that is installed in your vehicle to measure your alcohol concentration level. It is connected to the engine. You must blow into the device in order to start your vehicle. If the device detects alcohol, your vehicle will not start. In addition, the device will request random samples during the drive. If it detects alcohol during the drive, it will record the violation and notify DVS.
- Must be at least 18 years old and eligible for a class D license.
- Must have valid insurance on the vehicle. If you own a car, pickup truck, or van, you do not need further endorsements from the insurance company.
- If your plates were impounded, you need special plates from your local DMV.
You can start the application materials right away. It can be a daunting task to tackle alone. Many of the service providers can help you through these materials in an efficient manner.
- Pass the DWI knowledge test
- Pay the $680 reinstatement fee and submit the receipt
- Apply for a new class D license, pay the application fee
- Ignition Interlock Participation Agreement
- Certificate of Insurance guaranteeing the insurance coverage on the vehicle.
- DVS may require the insurance to be non-cancelable for a 12-month period.
- Submit application to:
Minn. Dept. of Public Safety Driver and Vehicle Services Ignition Interlock Unit, Suite 177 445 Minnesota St. St. Paul, MN 55101
- You may get the device installed in your vehicle prior to applying to the State.
- If you choose to apply before having a device installed, you will then receive a letter authorizing the installation of the device.
- You will need someone to drive your vehicle to the vendor to have the device installed. It costs approximately $100 for the installation, dependent upon the vendor.
- During the installation, the vendor will explain how to properly use the device. It is wise to have anyone that may drive the vehicle to attend this because every driver needs to blow into the device in order to drive it.
- Once it is installed, the vendor will notify the DVS of its installation, which will then issue the limited or restricted license.
- You cannot drive your vehicle until you are valid to do so under the limited or restricted license. The State will send a letter notifying you when this occurs. You may check online before receiving this letter to find out the status of your DL at: mndriveinfo.org. If you are valid on that site, you may then drive without needing to wait to receive the letter from the State.
- If you are revoked, you will receive a restricted license, limiting you to driving only vehicles equipped with the device.
- If you are cancelled (often, this occurs on your third offense within a ten-year period), then you will receive a limited license for the first year and a restricted license for the rest of the cancellation period. You will have to complete a chemical use assessment and follow recommendations prior to receiving the limited license.
Service and Monitoring
Service appointments must be scheduled every 30 days, unless you installed a wireless device, in which case you only need to schedule a service appointment every 60 days. At these appointments, information recorded will be downloaded and a calibration check will be performed. It is considered a violation not to have your device calibrated by the vendor.
You may have what’s called an early recall, requiring you to get the device serviced. An early recall occurs when: (1) six initial start lockouts due to alcohol readings during a 30-day period; (2) three reportable rolling retest violations; (3) one illegal start violation; or (4) equipment malfunction. You will have five days to get the vehicle in for servicing, after which time it will shut down permanently, requiring you to tow it for servicing.
Each vendor has different fees and costs associated with the monthly maintenance and service. You should consult with different vendors to understand these fees and costs and to ensure you are comfortable with the vendor you choose. With that being said, you should expect monthly fees and costs to be around $100 per month. You may qualify for reduced fees and costs, but you need to complete the Reduced Fee for Ignition Interlock Service and Monitoring form and submit it to the DVS. The DVS does not disclose the qualification requirements, so there is no basis to guess as to whether or not you may be eligible.
The device will have a specific blow pattern. The vendor will explain this to you. It is critical to understand that the participant is presumed to have provided all breath samples. This means that any driver other than the participant is essentially acting as the participant. Any indication of alcohol use will be considered use of alcohol by the participant and taken into consideration by the DVS.
When you try to start your vehicle, you must have an alcohol level below 0.02. If you fail this test, the vehicle will be locked out for five minutes. Then the device will allow another breath test. You have ten minutes to supply a passing breath test. Failing to do so is a violation.
Rolling retests are tests performed while the vehicle is running. The first retest will occur within 5-7 minutes, and then will continue to require retests between 15-45 minutes for the duration of your trip. A warning light and/or tone will alert you that a retest is required. You will then have 10 minutes to provide a passing retest. You must take the retest during this interval. It is not an excuse if you were away from the vehicle and you left it running. You may do the retest while driving, but it’s encouraged that you to find a safe and legal area to pull over to take the retest. If you skip three retests within a 7-day period, the program may be extended.
Some substances will affect the test and could give you a false positive. The following are examples:
- Mouthwash – Some mouthwash brands and sprays have alcohol in them, which will create a positive test on your device. It is recommended that you switch to a non-alcoholic mouthwash.
- Certain foods – Most foods will not cause the ignition interlock device to fail. But, you should be aware that certain foods may register a failed test. For example, sugar and active yeast in some bread products (e.g.; cinnamon rolls, doughnuts) can combine to create a low-level alcohol reading. Simply rinse your mouth with water before the test to eliminate the remaining food.
- Cigarette smoke and snuff – Always take a few deep breaths before attempting a test if you are a smoker. While cigarette smoke does not affect the interlock reading, you should never blow smoke into the unit.
It is a violation to tamper with a device, operate a vehicle without one installed, to operate a vehicle in violation of your limited license, fail to have your monthly maintenance, and to fail 3 retests within a 7 day window. Violations can result in criminal charges and the extension of your time on the program. You may request an administrative review for any action taken by the DVS on a violation. You must make a written request for review.
You may drive an employer-owned vehicle not equipped with the device while in the normal course and scope of employment. The employer must apply for an employment exemption variance with DVS and provide written consent. This is not available to a participant that is self-employed or who wholly or partially owns the entity that owns the vehicle.
Why you should consider it?
This may be your only option to drive during your revocation period. For those individuals that have a first-time offense with a BAC level in excess of .16 or have prior offenses within the previous ten years, you are not eligible for a limited license – meaning the only way you may be able to drive during your revocation period is to enroll in this program.