DWI interlock bill passed; Pawlenty expected to sign

State lawmakers have approved tougher drunken driving penalties, and the governor, who proposed the measures, is expected to sign the bill.

Minnesota Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Jean Ryan said the bill includes a provision requiring people convicted of more serious DWI to install ignition interlock on their vehicles. The device requires a driver to pass a breath test in order to start the car.

"Senate and the House have both passed a bill that would require first-time DWI offenders with an alcohol concentration level of .16 and above to install ignition interlock on their vehicle if they would like to drive during their revocation time period," Ryan said. "All repeat DWI offenders would be required this device installed on their vehicle."

Ryan said the proposal is an attempt to reduce the number of people convicted of DWI who continue to drive after their license has been revoked.

"They end up being illegal drivers," she said. "So what we're trying to do is say, 'no we're going to give you your driving privileges but you're going to install ignition interlock on your care because you've demonstrated high risk driving behavior.'"

Minnesota joins 22 other states with an ignition interlock requirement for people convicted of drunken driving. Ryan said drivers will pay $100 a month for the equipment. She said the new penalties, if approved by the governor, take effect next year.

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