GOP mailer on drunk driving law draws criticism

Safe driving advocates and Democrats are denouncing a Republican campaign mailing that criticizes Democrats for passing a law related to drunk driving.

Republicans sent the flyers to people in several legislative districts where DFL-ers, such as Rep. Jay McNamar of Elbow Lake and Rep. Will Morgan of Burnsville, are in competitive races. The mailers say Democrats voted for bills that weakened penalties for drunk driving.

The law passed with bipartisan support allows drivers convicted of DWI to get back on the road if they agree to pay for an ignition interlock system that prevents a car from starting if it detects alcohol on the driver’s breath.

Both Mothers Against Drunk Driving and Minnesotans for Safe Driving said the state’s highways are safer because of the law.

“The idea that the Legislature was being soft on drunk drivers when they passed a bill in 2014 which allowed those arrested and/or convicted of [Criminal Vehicular Operation] to have ignition interlock available to them is ridiculous,” wrote Nancy Johnson, Legislative Liaison for Minnesotans for Safer Driving.

This is the second time Republican mailings criticizing Democrats for being soft on public safety have drawn criticism. The Minnesota County Attorneys Association said a GOP mailer critical of a change in the state’s expungement laws was “misleading.”

Republican leaders did not immediately return calls to discuss the mailings.