The Contest is Over: Minnesota Man Unsurpassed with 28 DWIs.

28-dwis-despite-minnesota-restricted-licenseMinnesota has a lot to brag about. Not just its lakes (even more than the 10,000 it advertises on its license plates), or its high voter turnout, but also Dylan, deep-fried everything and the Coen brothers. But one record the state seems to have snagged is a regrettable one. Recently a man from Western Minnesota was picked up for his 28th DWI.

The driver, Danny Lee Bettcher, had a valid license at the time. It was a Minnesota restricted license – Bettcher was not allowed to drink and drive. This would be what is known in Minnesota as the B-Card. A repeat offender gets a B-Card if he or she completes chemical dependency treatment and then agrees never to touch drugs or alcohol. If the offender does drink or use drugs – even if he or she doesn’t drive – then penalites are imposed.

If a person drives drunk with a B-Card, criminal penalties apply. Moreover, the alcohol/drugs restriction is permanent.

That is why Bettcher is being held on $100,000 bail.

A Minnesota Restricted License – Better Than No License?

So here’s the problem: the offender had a piece of paper allowing him to drive, provided he never drank. He proceed to both drink and drive.

Many DWI offenders in Minnesota and elsewhere have their licenses revoked altogether for drunk driving offenses. They are arrested on a regular basis for driving – or drinking and driving. The reason is not hard to understand: when someone has decided to drink and driver, a piece of paper – or the lack of one – is not going to stop him or her.

Once Again: Ignition Interlocks Are the Answer

One measure which does prevent a person from drinking and driving is an ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer, which prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking. In Minnesota the devices are required for first drunk driving convictions where the BAC (blood alcohol concentration) is .16 or higher, and for all repeat DWIs.

Obviously, there was no ignition interlock on the car in question. Perhaps the ignition interlock term had expired, or more likely it wasn’t ordered in the first place. But a man with a record-breaking number of DWIs should have had an interlock installed permanently on all vehicles registered to or used by him.

An arrest record like this is obviously a sign of problems beyond which any device or punishment can address. All an ignition interlock can do is keep the public safer while other means are used to try to get this troubled man’s life back on track.