ST. PAUL, Minn. - State traffic safety officials think they may have the solution for the persistent problem of repeat drunk drivers.
New statistics from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety suggest less than 1 percent of the 10,664 DWI offenders in Minnesota who have used or are currently using ignition interlock have reoffended since the program started on a statewide basis in July of 2011.
Since then 3,283 people have graduated from the interlock program, meaning, they used the device for the required period without reoffending. There are currently 7,381 people using ignition interlock in Minnesota.
Ignition interlock devices are connected to a vehicle's starter. The only way a driver can start the vehicle is by blowing into the device and measuring an alcohol content under 0.02. If the alcohol content is at 0.02 or above, the car will not start and the information will be recorded and transmitted to authorities.
"Interlock devices are proving to be effective tools that are keeping the vast majority of past DWI offenders from repeating their mistakes," says Donna Berger, Office of Traffic Safety director. "In turn, this technology is cutting down on impaired driving and creating a safer driving environment for the traveling public."
Repeat DWI offenders, as well as first-time offenders arrested at 0.16 and above alcohol-concentration level must use interlock in order to regain legal driving privileges, or face at least one year without a driver's license. Offenders with three or more offenses are required to install interlock and use for three to six years, or they will never regain driving privileges. Cost of an interlock is $3-$4 per day.
There are 32 states, including Minnesota, that use ignition interlock for first-time DWI offenders.
For more information on the ignition interlock program, visit www.MinnesotaIgnitionInterlock.org.
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