Not every DWI in Minnesota requires the driver to get on the ignition interlock program to obtain their driver’s license. For instance, if someone has no prior DWIs in their past and their alcohol concentration level measures under .16, then they do not need ignition interlock. Instead, they can obtain a limited license (a.k.a. work permit), after fifteen days pass in their license revocation period. Similarly, if a person has no prior DWIs and they refuse to submit to an evidentiary breath, blood, or urine test upon arrest for Driving While Intoxicated, then they can also obtain a limited license, if they wish. Those two options do allow someone to voluntarily get on the ignition interlock program, which is a rare occurrence because of the hassle and cost of ignition interlock. Another option in these two scenarios is to not drive for the duration of the license revocation period and then go through the reinstatement process at a MN DMV to get your driver’s license status back to valid.


Repeat DWIs in a 10-Year Period or .16 or Higher Test

For those who get their second DWI, or driver’s license revocation related to a DWI, within a ten-year period, ignition interlock is the only option to drive legally during their driver’s license revocation period. This also applies for those who have an alcohol concentration of at least double the limit, .16 or more, even if it is their first DWI. In these scenarios, the license revocation period is for one year. In these scenarios, the drivers do not have to get on ignition interlock for the one-year period. Similar to the situations above, the person can sit out the one-year period and not drive, and then go through the reinstatement process. If the driver chooses to go through the ignition interlock program, then they should follow this checklist provided by Driver & Vehicle Services. In a one- or two-year revocation period, getting on the ignition interlock program allows the person to drive wherever they want and whenever they want. This benefits those that need to drive for more than just their job under the limited license scenario.


For those facing a two-year license revocation period, because they tested .16 or more or refused the evidentiary test, plus they have a prior DWI within the past ten years, then ignition interlock is also an option for them. Similar to the scenarios above, it is not mandated.


Canceled Status

For those who end up in a cancellation driver’s license status in Minnesota, ignition interlock is mandatory if they ever want to obtain a driver’s license with no restrictions. A person who gets at least three DWIs in a ten-year period will end up in canceled status. Also, if a person has at least five DWIs, or license revocations due to a DWI, then they often end up in canceled status regardless of how old the DWIs are on a person’s record. Basically, if you are facing a felony DWI, then you are almost assuredly in canceled status. In these scenarios, at least the first year will be a limited license with ignition interlock. Here is the checklist of items for someone looking to get on ignition interlock after having their license canceled. One of the main differences is that someone who has been canceled has to obtain a chemical use assessment and start following its recommendations before ignition interlock will be approved.


Be sure to stay up to date on all legislative changes. Often, bills are proposed that make ignition interlock mandatory for anyone who obtains a DWI, regardless of prior history or alcohol concentration levels. If you are ever in doubt, feel free to contact us for a consultation at no charge.


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