Minnesota has some harsh penalties for motorists convicted of driving while intoxicated, including driver's license suspension. When you absolutely have to drive to get around town, there is a solution: the ignition interlock device.
Penalties at a glance
Let us assume you were driving home after partying with friends, and a law enforcement officer stopped you on suspicion of drunk driving. A test of your blood alcohol content level showed it was below 0.16 percent, which means you can expect to be without your driving privileges for 90 days. However, as a first offender, you get a choice. First, you can elect to have 15 days without driving privileges, followed by a limited license for the remainder of the 90 days. Second, you can agree to the installation of an ignition interlock device and have full driving privileges for that 90-day period. Furthermore, if you plead guilty to DWI, you can bring that 90 days down to 30 days.
The IID explained
An ignition interlock device, which is basically a computer with a mouthpiece attached, is about the size of a mobile phone. The IID is installed near the steering wheel of your vehicle and connects to the wiring beneath the hood. To drive, you have to breathe into the mouthpiece, and the computer registers your BAC level. If you pass the test, your car will start. There will also be random retests as you drive.
Criminal penalties for a DWI conviction include a fine of up to $1,000 and the possibility of up to 90 days in jail. Depending on the circumstances surrounding your arrest, the judge could also order you to perform community service or continue periodic alcohol testing. There is also your future to consider. A DWI mark on your record can make finding suitable employment difficult, for one thing, or hamper your effort to get into college. First things first, however. Driving may be an important part of your life in the here and now, and an ignition interlock device could help you get where you want to go.