Regaining Your Driving Privileges with Minnesota’s Ignition Interlock Program


One of the worst punishments Minnesota drivers convicted of DWI face is the loss of driving privileges. Without a doubt, having to ask for rides to and from work and elsewhere can place a huge burden on both friends and family members. If you’ve recently been arrested for DWI, one of the first things you’ll want to address is exactly how to regain your driver’s license as soon as possible. First let’s examine how state law determines suspension lengths based on the circumstances of your case:

How long are driving privileges revoked for first time offenders?

  • 1st time offenders over the age of 21 with BAC below .16: 90 days.
  • 1st time offenders under the age of 21 with BAC below .16: 180 days.
  • 1st time offenders who refuse sobriety tests: 1 year.
  • 1st time offenders with BAC above .16: 1 year.

How long are driving privileges revoked for second time offenders?

  • 2nd offense within 10 years (BAC below .16): 1 year.
  • 2nd offense within 10 years (BAC over .16): 2 years.
  • 2nd offense with test refusal: 2 years.

How long are driving privileges revoked for third time offenders?

  • 3rd offense on record with BAC below .16: 1 years.
  • 3rd offense on record with BAC above .16: 2 years.

Meanwhile, program requirements become more stringent for repeat offenders faced with their 4th offense or higher. For more specifics, we recommend checking out the state’s Driver and Vehicle services page.

How do I avoid these suspensions?

Now that you know what kind of suspension you’re facing – let’s determine how you can sidestep these suspensions. The good news? Minnesota offers an Ignition Interlock program – announced in 2011. Installed in your vehicle by the dashboard, the device requires you to blow a BAC of .02 or under before you can start your vehicle. Once you’ve met the requirements below, you should be accepted into the program and regain your driving privileges:

  • Pass the state DWI knowledge test.
  • Apply to be reinstated ($680 fee).
  • Submit a “special review” form (2nd time offenders).
  • Sign up for special plates (otherwise known as “Whiskey plates”; required for 1st offenses with .16 BAC or more & for 2nd time offenses).

If you want to apply for the ignition interlock program, Minnesota offers this as a good route to restoring your driving privileges. Driving privileges are important – and the loss of them may not only affect your life, but the lives of those around you, whether it’s your kids who need rides to and from places, or the friends/family members you’ll have to rely on. And while blowing into a device to start your vehicle isn’t the most fun thing, it’s definitely a lot better than not being able to drive completely.