In September 2016, a new rule to an existing law was implemented by Minnesota’s Department of Public Safety (DPS) requiring DUI offenders to install updated ignition interlock devices in their vehicles. Some of these systems have GPS tracking capabilities.
Experts from the Minnesota Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and some state lawmakers have expressed concern about the constitutionality of tracking DUI offenders with GPS systems.
Overview of Minnesota’s Law Requiring Ignition Interlock Devices
The current ignition interlock devices collect data on someone’s blood alcohol level each time they start their vehicle and at different points during their travel, but the new ones will also track a DUI offender’s specific location, which might overstep some constitutional boundaries.
These new devices can find a driver’s position within five minutes. DPS has stated that it does not plan to collect or store the GPS data. However, the system manufacturers will but in a secure manner to protect the data.
State Senator Ron Latz, (D) from St. Louis Park was instrumental in authoring the current law requiring certain DUI offenders to install the ignition interlock devices. The original motive for the 2010 law was to make sure that DUI offenders could not get back behind the wheel if they had been drinking, particularly repeat offenders.
DPS has recognized the program has made Minnesota roads safer by reducing DUI offender recidivism rates, but Senator Latz now has concerns about the new systems with GPS tracking capabilities. He fears they will be abusive, invasive, and inappropriate.
Senator Latz has stated the purpose behind requiring ignition interlock systems is to prevent the car from starting if the operator has been drinking. The destination is irrelevant. Accordingly, Senator Latz hopes committee hearings can facilitate a public discussion about the issue, perhaps revealing why DPS thinks the change is necessary.
GPS Tracking for DUI Offenders May be Unconstitutional
Even a company certified by the DPS to install the ignition interlock systems has called the GPS tracking unconstitutional. Smart Start Minnesota filed a civil lawsuit against DPS claiming that it violated the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution, which prohibits unlawful search and seizure.
Smart Start has asserted that DPS violated the Fourth Amendment and the privacy rights of the participants in the program when it allowed GPS tracking on the ignition interlock devices.
To date, DPS has not provided an on-screen interview to discuss the issue, but as mentioned above, they have only released statements with claims that the data will not be collected or stored by DPS and that it will not be used for surveillance purposes.
All of this begs the question of why the ignition interlock devices even need the GPS tracking capabilities in the first place. As Senator Latz said, the whole purpose of the interlock program is to prevent people from driving drunk, not monitor their everyday habits or destinations.
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If you have been arrested and charged with driving under the influence or driving while intoxicated in Minnesota, it is imperative that you consult with an experienced Minnesota Criminal Defense Lawyer as soon as possible.
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