Minnesota’s soft approach to drunk drivers criticized

Presuming that most people aren’t big supporters of drunk drivers, one might think being less lenient on DUI offenders (1 in 7 Minnesota drivers has a DUI conviction) would be a slam dunk for state politicians.

So why is it relatively easy for people to still be driving after 9 arrests?

Fox 9 News says the question is percolating — again — after Lawrence LaPole of Rosemount, Minn., was picked up for the 10th time, this time in Wisconsin on Tuesday night.

Minnesota just isn’t very tough on repeat offenders, it says. You’re not a felon until your fourth DWI, for example. In most states, it’s three.

Even if you override the ignition interlock system in your car — LaPole is accused of doing that — it’s only a misdemeanor in Minnesota.

If you even have a system in your car, you’re a habitual drunk driver. It’s required of people with three DWIs over 10 years or four DWIs on a driving record. Install the interlock, pass a DWI knowledge test, and write a $680 check to get a driver’s license back, and you’re back on the road.

“It’s bigger than terrorism in this country,” Jon Cummings, the executive director of Minnesotans for Safe Driving, tells the station.

There were more than 500 arrests for drunk driving over the holiday weekend, a 25 percent increase from a year ago.