MADD planning legislative push for more ignition interlocks

MADD would like these to be required for all DWI offenders who want to continue driving.
MADD would like these to be required for all DWI offenders who want to continue driving.

In its recent evaluation of Minnesota's drunk driving laws, Mothers Against Drunk Driving gave the state low marks because ignition interlocks aren't required for all DWI offenders and sobriety checkpoints are illegal here.

RELATED: MADD calls upon Minnesota to legalize sobriety checkpoints

But Jennifer Freeburg, Minnesota executive director for MADD, says her organization plans to push for a stronger ignition interlock law during the 2015 legislative session.

"We will be creating a legislative agenda -- we already started to work on it," Freeburg said. "It won't be for 2014 because of the 'unsession,' but we're aiming for a strengthening of the ignition interlock program in '15."

Currently, first-time Minnesota DWI offenders with an alcohol concentration level of 0.16 or above and all repeat offenders are required to install an ignition interlock device for a minimum of one year. Freeburg said MADD would like to see the devices, which typically cost offenders about $100 for installation and an additional $50-$100 per month to lease, required for all DWI offenders regardless of their blood alcohol level.

Legalizing sobriety checkpoints, which would require a constitutional amendment, is something MADD hopes to accomplish further down the road, Freeburg added.

"Definitely, sobriety checkpoints are a long-term goal, but I think the effect of ignition interlocks is higher, and because of the way the constitutional is written, [sobriety checkpoints] wouldn't just be a legislative change but would have to go to the voters and there'd be a lot of work behind it," Freeburg said.

But MADD doesn't currently have a budget for lobbying in Minnesota, so whatever legislative advocacy it does comes via media releases like the recent state-by-state breakdown of drunk driving laws and from the work of the organization's volunteer committee.

-- Follow Aaron Rupar on Twitter at @atrupar. Got a tip? Drop him a line at [email protected]

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