Legislative Update 2021
It is that time of year again. The time of year that once the legislature finishes their work, new laws begin to be implemented.
This year is a bit of a change; while generally there is time to absorb the changes that the Legislature made before they are implemented, many new laws were passed this year the day before they went into effect. Several of these new laws affect existing ignition interlock program participants, while some will only affect future participants.
Here is a breakdown of the new laws, by effective date:
August 1, 2021
Mandatory Interlock for Multiple Offenders
Previously, drivers arrested for their 1st or 2nd DWI in the last 10 years could wait out the revocation period if that is what they chose.
However, that changes on August 1, 2021. Effective August 1, drivers who have multiple offenses will be required to complete the Ignition Interlock Program before they can be re-licensed without restriction. This means that drivers who fall under this provision will no longer be able to wait out that revocation period, and in many cases, the driver’s license revocation period will not begin until the driver has entered the Ignition Interlock Program.
July 1, 2021 (Currently In Effect)
Limited License for Cancelled Drivers:
Until July 1, all canceled drivers had to complete their first year in the Ignition Interlock Program on a Limited License. which means they were limited to a specific set of driving hours each week and only those hours. Limited hours impacted many people. Drivers whose jobs had varied hours, unemployed participants, or retired people were unable to drive outside of set treatment program hours and AA. The Limited License was an inconvenience and did not serve any real purpose. This was something that we at Smart Start MN had been seeking to change for many years.
Finally, the Legislature found a way to pass this change this year. Effective on July 1, canceled drivers are no longer required to be limited in where they can drive or when they can drive. We believe that this change applies to future participants in the Ignition Interlock Program and current participants. This is major progress for many of the people currently in the Interlock Program, whether they just entered the program or have been in the Program for a while. ALL limited licenses are going away, and there will no longer be restrictions as to the time or place of driving.
Contact us to learn how we can help get rid of a driver’s limited license restriction.
Special Series (Whiskey) Plates
Historically, the W-Plate, or Whiskey Plate, was designed to identify drivers with DWIs.
These plates allowed law enforcement to pull drivers over without reason, to see if they were offending. That changed in 2003 when the Minnesota Supreme Court issued a ruling banning that practice, and requiring officers to have a reasonable articulable suspicion of wrongdoing in order to justify such a stop. But, the W plate was not banned. Prior to July 1, 2021, all drivers with their first DWI over .16 and multiple offenders were required to have a W plate on all cars that are associated with their name. This was extremely unpopular, especially with family members and all others who drive those cars.
However, as of July 1, 2021, those drivers have a choice. They can keep the W Plate, or they can enter the Ignition Interlock Program. Once approved in the Program, the driver is eligible to get the W Plate removed from all vehicles that they own.
Currently, the Plate Impoundment unit is working with drivers who are looking to get rid of the W Plates or don’t want to get them in the first place. Driver’s who are approved into the program can go to any Driver and Vehicle Services Center that handles license plates and either pay $100.00 for regular plates if you have not obtained plates yet or $50.00 if you have already put the W Series plates on. No more Scarlet Letter.
Prior to July 1, 2021, drivers entering the Ignition Interlock Program needed to obtain an insurance certificate from their auto insurer. This certificate was sent from your insurer to the State of Minnesota, requiring the Insurer to notify the State of Minnesota if your auto insurance was canceled, either by the driver or by the insurer. The State required that this proof could only come from the home office of the insurer.
Effectively, to previously enter the Ignition Interlock Program, the driver was mandated by the state to self-report their DWI charge to their insurer. This almost always led to higher insurance premiums, or even insurance cancellation, despite the fact that the driver would be driving a vehicle with a device that made another DWI next to impossible.
However, reason has prevailed, and the SR-22 is no longer required to enter the Ignition Interlock Program, except in very limited circumstances.
Changes to the Cancelled Driver Program:
Since the Statewide program began in 2011, drivers who had 3 DWI’s in 10 years or 4 in a lifetime, have their privileges canceled as Inimical to Public Safety (Canc-IPS). Drivers who were Canc-IPS had a complete ban on the consumption of alcohol. Drivers who had positive alcohol tests while in the Interlock program were re-canceled with little to no notice. Once re-canceled, drivers had to re-submit all of their interlock application paperwork, get a new chemical dependency evaluation, and start a new treatment program, all without the benefit of a driver’s license.
As of July 1, this has been dramatically simplified. Drivers who are Canc-IPS are no longer canceled out of the Interlock Program, and their time in the Program is now reset back to the beginning of their Program. While this is a strong penalty, it does mean that drivers are not losing their driving privileges.
All of these changes will affect a majority of participants in the Ignition Interlock Program and will certainly have an impact on those entering the Interlock Program in the future.
As always, if you have questions about your circumstances, entering the Ignition Interlock Program, or how new legislative changes affect you, you can find more information at www.smartstartmn.com, email us at email@example.com, or call us at 952-224-7050.