Judiciary Committee focuses on changes in state DWI laws

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The Senate Judiciary Committee this week heard three bills that change DWI laws in Minnesota.

The first bill is in response to the tragic death of an eight-year-old boy in Chisago County, who was hit and killed by a man driving a snowmobile while drunk. The bill applies the same punishments for DWI offenses while operating a snowmobile, all-terrain vehicle, or motorboat as those for DWI while operating a motor vehicle. Recreational vehicle privileges will be revoked for a year, and operators may face losing driving privileges. The bill passed and was re-referred to Environment and Natural Resources Policy Committee. (SF 3638)

The second bill requires the installation and use of ignition interlock for people who commit their second DWI offense within 10 years, or third offense within a lifetime. It also requires that driving after driver’s license revocation cannot be a payable ticket, meaning a violation requires appearing before a judge. Committee members expressed concern about the costs involved with ignition interlock, but the bill passed and will next be heard in Finance. (SF 3300)

The third bill counts felony level DWI offenses that happened in another state as qualifying aggravating factors for DWI offenses in Minnesota. It had long been thought this was already practice in Minnesota, but the language adds clarity. The bill was laid over. (SF 2755)