Source: MGN Cropped Photo: Courtesy: Minnesota DWI Center / CC BY-SA 3.0 DE
ST. PAUL, Minn. (KARE) The notion of lifetime driver’s license revocation for multiple DWI convictions is gaining traction at the Minnesota State Capitol.
The only question so far has been setting the threshold, deciding how many drunk driving convictions makes a person permanently unfit to drive on Minnesota roads.
Rep. Dario Anselmo, an Edina Republican, introduced a bill Thursday setting that number at five or more DWI convictions. Although the measure carries the "lifetime" label, drivers would have a shot at redemption if they change their ways and stay out of trouble for a decade.
"I’m hoping this comprehensive approach will encourage people to get the help they need, and most importantly, protect my fellow citizens," Rep. Anselmo told reporters.
He said he was inspired in part by KARE’s coverage of Danny Lee Bettcher, and Otter Tail County man who has racked up an unbelievable tally of 28 DWI convictions.
"This inspired me to take action. Why should we be validating people’s rights like that, to drive a car?"
Anselmo cited 2014 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration report, which found there are at least 25,000 Minnesota drivers with five or more DWIs on their record.
He also noted recent reports that Edina has the highest per capita level of drunk driving arrests, due in large part of patrols of Highways 100 and 62, two freeways that crisscross the Minneapolis suburb.
"That troubles me as a person who drives home late at night, who has a wife and children, people in our community, the risk to them, their personal safety."
His legislation creates an out for serial offenders who are able to recover and get back on track. They may petition the court for reinstatement of their licenses after 10 years, provided they have no other traffic violations in that period.
Anselmo cited the experience of a fellow lawmaker, Rep. Keith Franke of St. Paul Park, who have several DWIs earlier in life while struggling with addiction. Franke, who beat the addictions and turned his life around, supports this bill.
"This legislation is going to be a tough task to take on, so we don’t want to hinder anyone from being successful in life," Rep. Franke remarked.
"We want to hopefully put an end to these repeat offenders, time after time after time, and allow them also then to get the help, and give them outs to be successful in life."
Anselmo says he’s hopeful, because he has gained support from some DFL lawmakers, who represent suburban areas and parts of the Iron Range.