A Brief Overview of Minnesota’s DWI Ignition Interlock Device Program

As of 1 July 2011, first-time DWI offenders with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .16 or more (twice the legal limit)—as well as all second-time or subsequent alcohol offenders—have the option of regaining driving privileges by participating in the state’s ignition interlock device (IID) program.

The IID program improves public safety by permitting eligible alcohol offenders the option of installing an IID in their vehicle to promote legal, safe driving. Thus, instead of completely losing one’s license and driving privileges for a period of time, participation in the IID program enables a person to continue to drive and monitors him/her to ensure s/he doesn’t drive—or attempt to drive—while under the influence or otherwise intoxicated.

What Is an IID?

An IID is a small piece of equipment mounted in one’s vehicle to monitor the driver’s BAC. Typically installed near the steering wheel, these devices include a tube into which the driver must blow before starting the vehicle. The IID is then connected to the engine. Any alcohol detection above a certain threshold level prevents the vehicle from starting.

Minnesota IIDs also randomly collect air samples while the vehicle is in motion to test for alcohol. This is to prevent an offender from having a sober person blow into the IID instead so the vehicle will start.

The collected data is recorded electronically and subsequently reported to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) each month.

How Are IIDs Installed?

IIDs can be installed in any car, pickup truck, or van operable with a regular Class D driver’s license that requires no additional endorsements. However, IIDs cannot be installed in rental or recreational vehicles including motorcycles and scooters.

How Do I Participate in the Iid Program?

The first step is to sign a participation waiver. These waivers are obtainable at the Driver and Vehicle Services Department at the DPS. Additional requirements necessary for IID program participation include:

  • Having valid insurance on the vehicle in which IID installation will occur
  • Passing a DWI knowledge test administered by the state
  • Completing an application
  • Paying the $680 application fee
  • Filling out the state’s participation agreement
  • Sending all required documents to the DPS

How Does the Program Work?

The IID program works by enabling a motorist convicted of one or multiple DWIs or other certain DWI-related offenses to obtain a restricted driver’s license instead of having one’s license revoked for a longer period of time. This is beneficial for those who need to drive to and from work, school, or to pick up their children instead of being completely denied the ability to drive. In this way, the IID program helps convicted DWI motorists lead more-or-less normal lives.

How Long Does the Iid Program Last?

Two primary factors determine the length of time a person must participate in the program. They are the number of prior DWI offenses and the offender’s level of intoxication at the time of the current offense.

Offenders are sentenced to a particular length of time to participate in the program; however, any violation of the program’s rules may result in an extension. Typically, a first DWI results in a one-year IID requirement, and each subsequent DWI adds a year to the program’s total length.

Motorists with canceled driver’s licenses and whose driving privileges have been denied as inimical to public safety (IPS) must enroll in the IID program for three (3) to six (6) years in order to regain their full driving privileges.

If you or someone you love is facing having to participate in Minnesota’s IID program or losing your/their driver’s license, it is important to contact a qualified and knowledgeable attorney. For more information, please contact us.