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Ignition Interlock Device with GPS Tracking in Minnesota

If charged with a DWI in Minnesota, you can face an array of penalties including jail time, loss of driving privileges, and steep fines.  Installation of an ignition interlock device (IID) is another potential consequence. This penalty recently became more burdensome for drivers subject to IID requirements.  The Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) implemented a new rule that would require DWI offenders to install a portable breath testing device with the capability of collecting GPS data.

Overview of the New Ignition Interlock Device Rule

The new rule applies to people convicted of drunk driving in Minnesota and took effect on September 1, 2016.  Vendors of IID devices will now have to install systems with wireless modems.  These new GPS systems can relay detailed and accurate information about a vehicle’s position with a five-minute window of accuracy.  The device can capture, record, and transmit GPS information anytime the vehicle is operated.  The data transmitted via the system will allow the government to know where and when you travel to a location.

DPS told 5 Eyewitness News that the data will not be collected and stored by the government.  The state agency claims that the information will be gathered and stored by the device manufacturers.

While IID systems have been used for years to record blood alcohol levels when a vehicle is started and at various intervals when the vehicle is driven, the recording of location information would seem to be an intrusion on motorists’ privacy. The data harvest will result in massive amounts of information being gathered on drivers.  These data collection efforts create a significant opportunity for abuse despite the claim by DPS that it will not have access to the data.

The Controversy Surrounding the New Ignition Interlock Device Rule

The GPS tracking version of the system raises several important issues.  Even advocates of traffic safety have suggested the change could make our roadways less safe.  The founder of Minnesotans for Safe Driving, John Cummings, points out that many people have voluntarily agreed to participate in the IID program.  According to Cummings, people might shy away from the program because they are uncomfortable about being tracked by the state through the GPS system.  His theory is that many drivers who may not reoffend because they opt into the ignition interlock program will now elect to pass on the program to avoid this form of intrusive surveillance.

The new regulation also might be unconstitutional under the U.S. Supreme Court decision Jones vs. the United States, according to the Minnesota American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).  The use of GPS tracking constitutes a search under the 4th Amendment.  A warrant is required before the government can engage in this form of collection and saving of tracking location information based on the opinion of Teresa Nelson, the legal director of the Minnesota Chapter of the ACLU.

Even Minnesotan state Senator Ron Latz (DFL-St. Louis Park), who was instrumental in enacting the IID program, has voiced concerns about adding a GPS requirement.  Latz told 3 Eyewitness News that installation of an ignition interlock device was only intended to prevent a vehicle from starting if the driver had been drinking.  He points out that it does not matter where the driver goes or when the trip is made.  Latz noted the goal of the IID program is to ensure that motorists convicted of DWI do not drink and drive again.  He intends to seek committee hearings to initiate discussion of the issue and to compel DPS to justify the change.

A judge recently put a stop to this tracking, citing a number of constitutional violations. This may continue to be a contested issue as the months go on in 2017.

Seek Legal Counsel for More Information

If you have been arrested for DWI, we invite you to speak to a Minnesota DWI Lawyer at Gerald Miller, P.A. as soon as possible.  The sooner you contact us, the sooner we can start protecting your rights.

Contact us today to schedule your free and confidential case evaluation.

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