Minnesota's Ignition Interlock - Challenging False Positives
Minnesota's Ignition Interlock allows drivers to reinstate driving privileges with an alcohol interlock installed in their vehicle. However, violations of the program may result in extensions or license cancellations. Accordingly, it is important to understand the process and rights.
What is the Ignition Interlock Program?The alcohol interlock is also called an ignition interlock device. An alcohol interlock may be required for a driver to seek earlier reinstatement of their license after a DWI or after multiple DWI offenses.
Are Revoked Drivers and Cancelled Drivers Treated the Same?No. A revoked driver and a cancelled driver have different options.
A driver who is revoked because of an alcohol related DWI offense or an Implied Consent license revocation may decide to reinstate their license early with an alcohol interlock or, elect to wait out the revocation period without an interlock before reinstating.
A driver who has been cancelled because of an alcohol related DWI offense or an Implied Consent cancellation must particulate in the interlock program in order to be reinstated. The time period necessary for the interlock depends on the how many prior offenses have occurred.
Any driver who elects to participate in the Interlock program must sign an Ignition Interlock Participation Agreement with the Department of Public Safety indicating that he driver understands the conditions of the program. A Cancelled driver must also complete a statement form indicating, under oath, when their last use of alcohol occurred.
What is an Interlock?The Interlock requires a driver to blow into the device where the breath sample is then tested to determine if there is alcohol present. How the interlock device works will be demonstrated at the service center where it is installed on a vehicle. Here are some facts about the interlock.
(1) Different interlocks have different ways for acquiring a sample to test. The blow pattern may include a hum or it may involve an exhale/inhale pattern.
(2) Each device is equipped with a camera. The camera will take a picture during all breath tests and any violations to validate who is providing the sample.
(3) A canceled driver is required to show proof they are abstaining from alcohol by providing 30 initial start breath tests during each month.
(4) The participant driver is presumed to have provided all breath samples. Any indication of use of alcohol detected by the device will be considered use of alcohol by the participant and will be taken into consideration by the Department.
How may violations of the Interlock Program occcur?(1) Tampering, circumventing or bypassing the device (MN Stat. 171.306 Subd. 5);
(2) Operating a vehicle not equipped with a certified ignition interlock device (MN Stat. 171.306 Subd. 5) ;
(3) Violation of the ignition interlock limited license (MN Stat. 171.306 Subd. 5);
(4) For canceled drivers, the failure to provide no fewer than 30 initial breath tests each month (verification of abstinence) (MN Rule 7503.1725 Subp. 5(B));
(5) Failure to bring the vehicle in for a service appointment and calibration (MN Stat. 171.306);
(6) Three (3) failures to take a rolling retest within a seven (7) day period (MN Stat. 171.306 Subd. 5)
What happens if there is a violation of the interlock program?1st Offense - 180 days added to the length of the program
2nd Offense - 1 year added to the length of the program
3rd Offense - 545 days added to the length of the program
o Additionally, Under Minn. Stat. 171.306, Subd. 5, the commissioner of public safety may terminate participation in the program by any person when, in the commissioner's judgment, termination is necessary to the interests of public safety and welfare. In the event of termination, the commissioner shall not reduce the applicable revocation period by the amount of time during which the person possessed a limited or restricted driver's license issued in the interlock system.
Can I seek a Review of the Sanction?If a participant disagrees with action taken by DVS on a violation, the participant may request an administrative review or file to seek a judicial review by a Judge.
In an administrative review, the DVS will review the participant's driving record only upon written request which includes the participant's name, date of birth, driver's license number and signature. In addition, the request must include a detailed explanation of the incident(s) including any additional information that will assist DVS in making a decision. A copy of the withdrawal notice should be included. All administrative review decisions are final.
In a judicial review, a legal action is commenced which seeks court review of the administrative sanction. In such a proceeding, evidence is presented, testimony is often offered and legal arguments are made. Sadly, like any mechanical test, the ignition interlock is not infallible and false positive test may result in a requirement for extended use of the interlock and excessive violations may even result in an immediate cancellation of the driver's license. A review of ignition interlock reports may reveal a problem. For example, a positive test that is followed shortly thereafter by a negative test, or a significantly reduced test result may indicate a drop in alcohol concentration that could not be attributable simply to the passage of a few minutes of time. This would be a basis to challenge the result as a false positive test.