Fate of GPS for interlock ignition devices uncertain in Minn.

If you are a convicted drunk driver in the state of Minnesota, your location is being tracked through a GPS tracking system.  However, the Minnesota state legislature never approved its current use by the Department of Public Safety. 

It should be noted for our Missouri readers that the State of Missouri, through the Department of Revenue, requires GPS tracking for hardship licenses and reinstatement after a DWI.

There are some 11,000 convicted DUI drivers in Minnesota.  The DPS is currently tracking their whereabouts with GPS.  The interlock ignition law was passed in 2010 without the intention of tracking drivers with a GPS system.  Some legislators in Minnesota are concerned about whether this tracking is overreaching and unconstitutional.

A bi-partisan group of lawmakers are proposing a bill to end the use of GPS tracking of DUI offenders using ignition interlock equipment.

Opponents of the GPS tracking say that the issue is not that they are being tracked while driving drunk but that they are being tracked while they are sober. During recent hearings on the issue, the ACLU has stated that GPS tracking equates to a 4th Amendment search.  Criminal defense attorneys have testified that prosecutors could subpoena the GPS data for other criminal cases that are not connected to the DUI conviction.

The DPS has argued that the advantage of GPS is that they have immediate reporting of user violations, allowing them to take instant action instead of waiting at least 30 days to check a driver’s log.  Log verification was how it was done in the past.  DPS further states that they do not use or store data that they receive beyond the actual day it was recorded.

The proposed bill has received two amendments out of committee. The amendments would mandate that all DUI convicted Interlock users must be informed that their interlock device could potentially track them via GPS, and that they can be turned on by a court order.

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