Minnesota has a serious problem when it comes to drunk drivers. In 2014, 31 percent of the state’s 111 motor vehicle deaths were alcohol related. In 2015, the number of traffic fatalities rose to 137 and 2,203 injuries were reported. In an effort to reduce such statistics, the Minnesota ignition interlock program became law in the summer of 2011, and the Office of Traffic Safety recently undertook a comprehensive evaluation of that program.
Out of 130,455 drivers since 2011 who were eligible for program enrollment throughout the state, 23,115 became participants. Of these, 13,412 enrolled voluntarily and were given interlock-restricted driver’s licenses. The other 9,703 drivers were required to enroll and were issued limited licenses.
Outlook for program completion
At 26.1 percent, participation in the ignition interlock program was highest among drivers 55 to 64 years of age, followed by the 45 to 54 age group, which came in at 24.6 percent. The completion rate for the program was 48.2 percent; however, the long-term projection is that 60 percent of all participants will complete the program successfully within the average time span of 412 days.
The data compiled indicates that the Minnesota Ignition Interlock Program has prevented at least 12,302 instances of people with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or higher from starting their vehicles. Even more important, there has been a significant reduction in alcohol-related fatalities on Minnesota highways since the program began. Data also shows that people who completed the program were 39 percent less likely to get arrested for DWI again than those who did not participate.
More information and legal assistance
Drivers charged with a first or second drunk driving offense may volunteer to have an ignition interlock device installed on their vehicles; the devices will be required for those who have been charged with more serious DUI/DWI offenses. Anyone who has been arrested for such an offense should obtain legal representation by an experienced criminal defense attorney who can explain more about the ignition interlock program, carefully review the case and go to work quickly to achieve the best outcome.