Ignition Interlock – Michigan Driver’s License Resoration Lawyer

Ignition Interlock DeviceIn the State of Michigan, the courts and the Secretary of State can require that you operate your motor vehicle only after an ignition interlock device has been installed.  The following cases typically require installation of the ignition interlock:

  • OWI with a BAC > .17 (Super Drunk): In Michigan, people who are convicted of a drinking and driving offense with a BAC of .17% or greater are charged as “Super Drunk”  The license restrictions are as follows: Suspended license for 45 days and 320 days of driving with a restricted license. You will be required to have a breath alcohol ignition interlock device (BAIID) installed during the restricted driving period.

  • License Appeal: If you have your license restored at a Michigan Driver’s License Restoration and Appeal hearing you will be required to have an ignition interlock device installed for a period of one year.  The year starts to run only after the ignition interlock device has been installed.
  • Drunk driving offenses with serious factors: The court may impose an ignition interlock requirement on a person if the court believes that the person has an existing alcohol condition.  The ignition interlock device serves the purpose of testing the individual for alcohol.  It also prevents a person from operating motor vehicle if it detects a threshold amount of alcohol.
  1. What is an ignition interlock device and how does it work?

An ignition interlock is a device that will prevent a person from starting a vehicle if the device determines that the person has been drinking. Similar to a breathalyzer, the ignition interlock device measures the amount of alcohol in a person’s lungs. If the ignition interlock device calculates that the amount of alcohol on a person’s breath exceeds a preset amount, the interlock temporarily locks the vehicle’s ignition so the person cannot operate the motor vehicle.  If a person is required to perform what is called a “rolling retest,” the device will require that you perform an aclohol test while operating the motor vehicle.  If the machine determines that you are operating with a BAC over a specific amount, the machine will start to blow the horn and flash the lights.

At specified times you will have to go to the interlock company to have the ignition interlock device calibrated and to have the data in the device’s memory downloaded to a computer.  The computer then generates a log that will indicate if you have attempted to start a motor vehicle with the presence of alcohol.  The logs will show if you miss a required rolling retest.  Both of these issues will result in a violation requiring a SOS hearing.

The ignition interlock uses computer algorithms and has an internal memory.  When the device is installed it is connected to the vehicles other electronic systems.  Again, the ignition interlock device or BAIID measures the driver’s bodily alcohol content (BAC), and will prevent the vehicle from starting if the measured BAC is .025 or higher. Please note that as of June 6, 2016, the interlock device will have a camera that records the user’s image when testing.

If the ignition interlock determines that the person has “3 start-up test failures” within a monitoring period, or 1 rolling retest failure, or if it detects tamper/circumvent, the vehicle will have to be taken to an interlock service center.  If you do not follow that procedure the vehicle will perform a “lock-out” wherein the vehicle will not be able to be started.  You will have to have a technician come to your home or have it towed to the service center.

If you have been issued an ignition interlock violation you will face repercussions.  If the Secretary of State issued your license after a driver’s license appeal, then you will have to attend a major violation hearing.  If you do not prevail at the hearing, the hearing officer can reinstate your original revocation.  You will have to wait another year before you can appeal to get your license reinstated after another appeal hearing.  Obviously if you prevail at the hearing, you will be allowed to keep driving.

If you have any questions regarding use of the device you must ask the interlock service company.  There are a list of medications, etc. that may result in positive tests.

If you have ANY questions about the BAIID installed on your vehicle, ask your installer. Make sure you understand how to operate the BAIID before you leave the installer’s place of business. You will be responsible for the consequences of the device’s operation.

2) Where are the installation centers located in Michigan?

The Secretary of State lists several companies where you can get the device installed.  The SOS does not endorse any specific company.

  • MICHIGAN INTERLOCK, LLC
    TOLL FREE 1-888-786-7384
    Manufacturer:
    Alcohol Detection Systems, Inc.
    1718 Belmont Avenue, Suite E
    Baltimore, MD 21244
  • AMERICAN INTERLOCK
    TOLL FREE 1-800-580-0504
    Manufacturer:
    Consumer Safety Technology
    10520 Hickman, Suite F
    Des Moines, IA 50325
  • SMART START MICHIGAN
    TOLL FREE: 1-800-880-3394
    Manufacturer:
    SmartStart, Inc.
    4850 Plaza Drive
    Irving, TX 75063
  • #1A LIFESAFER OF MICHIGAN
    TOLL FREE: 1-888-294-7002
    Manufacturer:
    Lifesafer Interlock, Inc.
    4290 Glendale Milford Road
    Cincinnati, OH 45242
  • NATIONWIDE INTERLOCK
    TOLL FREE: 1-866-694-6099
    Manufacturer:
    Draeger Safety Diagnostics, Inc.
    4040 W Royal Lane
    Suite 136
    Irving, TX 75063
  • ALCOLOCK MI, INC.
    TOLL FREE:1-855-875-4579
    Manufacturer:
    Alcohol Countermeasure Systems
    60 International Boulevard
    Toronto, Ontario M9W 612 Canada

We do not recommend one company over the other.  This list is subject to change if the business no longer exists.

Additionally, we have yet to have a client recommend one place over the others.  In all honesty, most of our clients have had complaints and problems with all of the companies at one time or another.

3) What actions constitute a violation according to the Secretary of State?

The following is taken directly from the Michigan Secretary of State website.  Description of Major and Minor Violations by the Michigan SOS  The SOS breaks violations down into two types.  They are as follows:

Minor Violations:

  • A driver has 2 months after the BAIID is installed to become familiar with the device, and to learn that certain substances, such as mouth wash, may cause the device to record a test failure. After the first 2 months, it is a minor violation if the BAIID records 3 start-up test failures within a monitoring period. A start-up test failure means the BAIID has prevented the vehicle from starting. A monitoring period is the full length of time the BAIID is required to be properly installed.
  • If the driver fails to report to the BAIID installer for servicing within 7 days after his or her scheduled monitoring date, it is a minor violation.

Major Violations:

  • Rolling retest violation:
    • Failing to take the rolling retest when prompted by the BAIID; or
    • The random retest detects a BAC of .025 or higher, and there is no subsequent sample with a BAC of less than .025 within 5 minutes.
  • An arrest or conviction for drunk and/or drugged driving.
  • Tampering with the BAIID.
  • Circumventing the BAIID.
  • Three minor violations within a monitoring period.
  • Removing the BAIID without having another device installed within 7 days, unless the Secretary of State has authorized the removal.
  • Operating a vehicle without a properly installed BAIID.
  1. Do the ignition interlock devices cause problems? Do they operate correctly?

No, the devices are not perfect.  They malfunction at times, and sometimes, very often for a single client.  We have had clients that had numerous issues.  These cases were unfortunate because the people did not tamper or circumvent the device.  Nevertheless, the interlock company sent the violation notice to the SOS and the client had to retain us to defend him at the violation hearing.

The best free advice I can give someone at this moment is this:  Report any interlock problems immediately to the interlock company and document who you talked to, when you talked to them, and what problem you reported.  Make sure you save all of your receipts if you have repairs done to the vehicle.  For example, always document when you have new batteries installed and any repairs that had done.

The following have been known to cause interlock issues:

  • Battery problems – Battery issues usually generate the most issues. If the battery loses power the device will register a tamper circumvent.  It is very important to have a good battery in your car.  If you need to replace the battery keep the receipt because all of the date stamps help us defeat any violation that you may receive.  Also, if the device is installed incorrectly the interlock device may drain the battery.  For example, we had a client that owned a vehicle where the installation company wrongly connected the device.  It drained her batter on 3 occasions.
  • Electrical issuesA weak alternator can fail to recharge a battery. Of course, the battery will eventually be drained of any energy.
  • Old Cars – As cars age the systems begin to wear down. If this happens a problem may be difficult to diagnose.  In one instance we had a client that had a pulley that did not work unbeknownst to him.  Since the pulley was not working the vehicle did not charge the battery.  We presented proof at the violation hearing to show that the client had the pulley replaced.  The letter from his mechanic clearly indicated that the car had mechanical issues.  We won the hearing because the client did not tamper or circumvent the interlock device.
  • Cold Weather – Cold weather can drain your battery overnight. Extremely cold weather can sometimes impede the interlock’s ability to function correctly.  The interlock company will advise you how to warm the device.  You should always contact them to document the fact that you are having an issue with the device.

There are other issues that can result in a false tamper/circumvent violation.  You should discuss the issue with an attorney so that the issues can be identified.  Also, there are other reasons why the device will register alcohol when in fact you did not drink alcohol.  Please see our other article discuss the use of medications and alcohol testing:

CZARNECKI AND TAYLOR  are veteran and experienced driver’s license restoration lawyers.  We diligently and meticulously defend our clients to get them or keep them on the road.  We have represented clients in hundreds of driver’s license restoration and violation hearings.  We have handled numerous cases regarding ignition interlock devices.

Our website:  Czarnecki & Taylor website

Call us 24/7 – 365 to schedule an appointment.  Many times we can get you in the same day.  We have weekend and evening appointments as well.  You are also more than welcome to call to discuss your case.  (586) 718-2345.  Any consultations are always free.

It never hurts to get free information from experienced attorneys.