What is an ignition interlock device and why would you want one?
An ignition interlock device (IID) is a small device that is installed in a vehicle to prevent the vehicle from being driven by someone whose blood alcohol content (BAC) is over the legal limit, which in Minnesota is .08. An IID is about the size of a hand, with an attached tube. The driver blows into the tube before starting the car; the car won’t start if the driver’s BAC is too high. The unit may also require additional breath tests while the car is in operation—although this sounds potentially unsafe, don’t worry, your car won’t simply grind to a halt if you happen to fail one of these mid-drive tests! It will, however, record a violation.
In some situations, Minnesota makes the installation of an IID mandatory. For example, drivers whose licenses are canceled and whose privileges are denied as “inimical to public safety” are required to use an IID for a period of three to six years in order to regain full driving privileges.
However, in other situations, an IID is not required, but you might want one anyway. Why would you want to install an unnecessary and time-consuming device on your vehicle? Minnesota runs what’s called the Ignition Interlock Device Program. For drivers convicted of a first or second driving while intoxicated (DWI) offense who have had their driving licenses canceled, the voluntary installation of an IID is a way to regain that license. This can be a good option for dealing with the difficulties that not being able to drive can cause, not to mention a great way of being sure you’re under the legal limit and safe to drive on any given night.
The program is administered by the Minnesota Department of Driver and Vehicle Services, which is what most people would more commonly think of as the DMV. The program isn’t cheap–there is an application fee, a $680 license reinstatement fee, a monthly fee for use of the device (in the $50 to $150 range, depending on which company you get it from), and fees for installation and removal of roughly $50 each.
You’ll obtain the IID from a state-approved vendor, and you can start driving after receiving a restricted license. In other words, don’t simply start driving as soon as the device is installed. Keep in mind that there are different requirements for participation in the program depending on whether your original license was revoked or canceled/denied. Contact your lawyer for help determining whether you qualify for participation.