A change in the law regarding Ignition Interlock Devices (IID) and their use to include GPS information has caused great concern among motorists recently.
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) issued a rule this fall that requires DUI offenders to install new IID and some have the capability of collecting GPS data.
But one of the state’s vendors that install the new interlock systems opposes the DPS decision.
Smart Start MN who have been providing and installing IID equipment since 2006 recently suggested: “These wireless modems capture, record and transmit GPS data on each event that occurs and the state has access to your location when you use your vehicle.”
On its blog Smart Start claims: “Effective September 1, 2016, the State of Minnesota is requiring all Ignition Interlock vendors to install a wireless modem in all interlock installations. These modems provide ‘real-time’ data to the State, with the expectation that all data will be transmitted to the State within 5 minutes.”
However, DPS told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS in a statement that the agency is NOT requiring the new interlock system to have GPS collection capability and that it will not “collect, or house the data.”
They claim that collection and storage of the data will rest in the hands of the private companies that manufacture the equipment according to DPS and they “have data protection systems in place.”
This announcement affects thousands of Minnesotans who are required to have an IID, or have chosen the interlock system as part of their sentence for their DUI convictions. So what does DWI and DUI law firm Meaney & Patrin think of the changes?
Here we answer some of the more pressing questions surrounding the issue.
What exactly is an Ignition Interlock Device and who uses them?
The Ignition Interlock Device (IID) is a tool used by the DMV and sometimes the courts to allow DWI offenders an opportunity to drive during their revocation period after a DWI arrest. The device attaches to a vehicle and must be used to start the vehicle. The driver must provide a breath sample with an alcohol level below 0.02 for the vehicle to start, and the device prompts the driver to provide additional tests while driving.
Can you explain how this change affects drivers who use the Ignition Interlock Device?
People who participate in the Interlock program are required to have the device calibrated every month, which also includes collection of the last month of data to be transmitted and reviewed by the DMV for any alcohol use or other issues like tampering. The DMV would rather not wait to collect this information, so they are changing the device requirements to require real time data transmittal. The technology to do this also provides GPS tracking capability. All devices must have this capability by January 1, 2017.
Do you think the new ruling might mean that offenders choose not to use the system?
There will definitely be individuals who choose not to use the interlock device based on privacy concerns, but the vast majority of people will still use it because frankly they have no other choice if they want to stay employed and care for their families.
What alternatives are available for drivers who no longer want to use the IID?
Unfortunately there are no other driving options except the interlock device for many DWI offenders. The only other choice is to not drive at all until the revocation period expires (if your license is cancelled you are actually required to participate in the interlock program for 3-6 years depending on your history).
Is this new rule a concern for Meaney & Patrin?
It’s certainly a concern because ordinarily the government is not authorized to track the everyday whereabouts of citizens. The government also generally cannot condition the granting of a privilege (driving) on the surrender of a constitutional right, which arguably includes a right to privacy. The DMV has announced in a press release that they don’t care about tracking locations and they will not be actively using that data. However, the tracking data will still be retained and stored.
What advice would you give anyone who is currently using or is required to use IID in the future?
There really may not be any other choice for most people. If you suspect the DMV has reviewed any of your GPS data, you may want to get an attorney involved.