Minnesota's Ignition Interlock Program

Posted On November 20, 2009 by Charles Ramsay

On July 1, 2009, Minnesota implemented a statewide pilot Ignition Interlock program. This program allows drivers who have had their licenses revoked, cancelled, suspended or withdrawn due to multiple DWI convictions or revocations get their licenses back earlier, if they agree to install an ignition interlock device on their car.

This is the first sensible move by Minnesota in the DWI arena in decades. Until now the Department of Public Safety had a policy that made no sense. It preferred people to drive without a valid license â?? knowing people must drive on many occasions â?? than fashioning a workable solution to Minnesota's drunk driving problem. This allows citizens to drive to work, school and other places legally while at the same time ensuring our roads are same for our loved ones. Bravo DPS!

According to a Duluth news outlet 400 DWI offenders have already participated in Minnesota's Ignition Interlock Program. Some benefits to this program include driving sooner, being able to drive to work, school, or wherever you need, avoiding future DWIs, driving legally and quite possibly saving money by being able to drive your own vehicle in lieu of cabs, bus fare, or saving the hassles of having to ask others to drive somewhere for you. There are potential disadvantages, whether it is worth it for you to enroll will depend on your needs, preferences and level of offense. You will also have to have to bring your vehicle for monthly maintenance appointments so that engine start information can be downloaded into a report format.

The ignition interlock is a small device that is installed into the vehicle and is used to measure an individual's alcohol concentration. If the driver has been drinking and blows into the tube and registers a high alcohol concentration level the vehicle will not start. The device will also trigger random retests as the vehicle is driven to ensure that alcohol has not been consumed while operating the vehicle.

It remains to be seen what if any flaws exist in the program which may cause a device to erroneously stop one's automobile.


Are you eligible? I've created a chart to determine your eligibility in Minnesota's Ignition Interlock Program.


The cost of the ignition interlock varies by vendor. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety gives the following estimates:

Installation fee: $35.00 -$100.00

Monthly maintenance fee: $60.00 - $125.00

Lockout fee: $35.00 - 50.00

Removal fee: $25.00 - 50.00

Switch Vehicle Fee â?? $55.00

Relevant Minnesota Statutes

For your convenience, I've posted Minnesota Statute sections 171.305 and 171.306 in their entirety below:


Subdivision 1.Definition.

"Ignition interlock device" or "device" means breath alcohol ignition equipment designed to prevent a motor vehicle's ignition from being started by a person whose alcohol concentration exceeds the calibrated setting on the device.

Subd. 2.

[ Expired]

Subd. 3.Performance standards.

The commissioner shall specify performance standards for ignition interlock devices, including standards relating to accuracy, safe operation of the vehicle, and degree of difficulty rendering the device inoperative. The interlock ignition device must be designed to operate from a 12-volt DC vehicle battery and be capable of locking a motor vehicle's ignition when a minimum alcohol concentration of 0.020 grams of ethyl alcohol per 210 liters of breath is introduced into the device. The device must also require a breath sample to determine alcohol concentration at variable time intervals ranging from five to 30 minutes while the engine is running. The device must also be capable of recording information for later review that includes the date and time of any use of the vehicle or any attempt to use the vehicle, including all times that the vehicle engine was started or stopped and the alcohol concentration of each breath sample provided.

Subd. 4.Certification.

The commissioner shall certify ignition interlock devices that meet the performance standards and may charge the manufacturer of the ignition interlock device a certification fee. A manufacturer who submits a device for certification must provide an application for certification on a form prescribed by the department.

Subd. 5.Issuance of limited license.

The commissioner may issue a limited license to a person whose driver's license has been canceled and denied due to an alcohol or controlled substance-related incident under section 171.04, subdivision 1, clause (10), under the following conditions:

(1) at least one-half of the person's required abstinence period has expired;

(2) the person has successfully completed chemical dependency treatment and is currently participating in a generally recognized support group based on ongoing abstinence; and

(3) the person agrees to drive only a motor vehicle equipped with a functioning and certified ignition interlock device.

Subd. 6.Monitoring.

The ignition interlock device must be monitored for proper use and accuracy by an entity approved by the commissioner.

Subd. 7.Payment.

The commissioner shall require that the person issued a limited license under subdivision 5 pay all costs associated with use of the device.

Subd. 8.Proof of installation.

A person approved for a limited license must provide proof of installation prior to issuance of the limited license.

Subd. 9.Misdemeanor.

(a) A person who knowingly lends, rents, or leases a motor vehicle that is not equipped with a functioning ignition interlock device to a person with a limited license issued under subdivision 5 is guilty of a misdemeanor.

(b) A person who tampers with, circumvents, or bypasses the ignition interlock device, or assists another to tamper with, circumvent, or bypass the device, is guilty of a misdemeanor.

(c) The penalties of this subdivision do not apply if the action was taken for emergency purposes or for mechanical repair, and the person limited to the use of an ignition interlock device does not operate the motor vehicle while the device is disengaged.

Subd. 10.Cancellation of limited license.

The commissioner shall cancel a limited license issued under this section if the device registers a positive reading for use of alcohol or the person violates any conditions of the limited license.

Subd. 11.Program standards.

The program standards applicable to section 171.306 also apply to this section.


1991 c 270 s 6; 1992 c 570 art 1 s 24; 1993 c 347 s 19; 1997 c 12 art 3 s 10; 1999 c 238 art 2 s 91; 2000 c 478 art 2 s 1; 2007 c 54 art 3 s 4



Subd. 1.Pilot project established; reports.

The commissioner shall conduct a statewide two-year ignition interlock device pilot project as provided in this section. The pilot project must begin on July 1, 2009, and continue until June 30, 2011. The commissioner shall submit a preliminary report by September 30, 2010, and a final report by September 30, 2011, to the chairs and ranking minority members of the senate and house of representatives committees having jurisdiction over criminal justice policy and funding. The reports must evaluate the successes and failures of the pilot project, provide information on participation rates, and make recommendations on continuing the project.

Subd. 2.Performance standards; certification.

The commissioner shall determine appropriate performance standards and a certification process for ignition interlock devices for the pilot project. Only devices certified by the commissioner as meeting the performance standards may be used in the pilot project.

Subd. 3.Pilot project components.

(a) Under the pilot project, the commissioner shall issue a driver's license to an individual whose driver's license has been revoked under chapter 169A for an impaired driving incident if the person qualifies under this section and agrees to all of the conditions of the project.

(b) The commissioner must denote the person's driver's license record to indicate the person's participation in the program. The license must authorize the person to drive only vehicles having functioning ignition interlock devices conforming with the requirements of subdivision 2.

(c) Notwithstanding any statute or rule to the contrary, the commissioner has authority to and shall determine the appropriate period for which a person participating in the ignition interlock pilot program shall be subject to this program, and when the person is eligible to be issued:

(1) a limited driver's license subject to the ignition interlock restriction;

(2) full driving privileges subject to the ignition interlock restriction; and

(3) a driver's license without an ignition interlock restriction.

(d) A person participating in this pilot project shall agree to participate in any treatment recommended by a chemical use assessment.

(e) The commissioner shall determine guidelines for participation in the project. A person participating in the project shall sign a written agreement accepting these guidelines and agreeing to comply with them.

(f) It is a misdemeanor for a person who is licensed under this section for driving a vehicle equipped with an ignition interlock device to drive, operate, or be in physical control of a motor vehicle other than a vehicle properly equipped with an ignition interlock device.


2007 c 54 art 3 s 5; 2009 c 29 s 2,3

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