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How the Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device Works

The State of Michigan is very serious about keeping people who drink and drive off the roads. This is where technology comes into play. For example, have you ever wondered how the breath alcohol ignition interlock device works? This article defines it, explains how it works, how false positives occur, and what to do to protect yourself from violations.

To begin, a breath alcohol ignition interlock device (BAIID) is one of the main ways the state attempts to reduce drinking and driving in Michigan. If a person has two or more DUIs within seven (7) years, the state revokes the offenders license for a minimum of one (1) year. When eligible for its return, the state will require the use of a BAIID for at least one (1) year.

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How the breath alcohol ignition interlock device works

What Do I Do When My Driver’s License is Revoked?

Once revoked, a person must petition the Michigan Department of State Driver License Appeal Division (DLAD) with several documents. Once the petitioner has submitted the substance abuse evaluation and testimonial letters to the Driver’s License Appeal Division and a hearing has taken place, a determination will be made on whether the person is approved to drive again.

If approved, a restricted driver’s license will be issued. The restrictions can restricted by time, like 8 A.M. to 7 P.M, or by place, such as to and from work and school only.

In addition to having driving restrictions, Michigan law requires the driver to have an ignition interlock device installed on their car for a minimum of one (1) full year as a prerequisite to receiving full driving privileges. This helps prove to the State that the driver can drive safely, and is also evidence that all alcohol consumption has ceased.

Where Do I Get the Interlock Installed? How Much Does it Cost?

The Secretary of State has a list of providers who are authorized in Michigan to install ignition interlock devices. The driver will be responsible for all costs associated with the device, including an initial installation fee of $100.00 to $200.00 as well as monthly rental fees between $70.00 and $100.00.

Facing DUI charges? Unhappy with your current attorney? Request a free consultation now.

What Exactly Is An Ignition Interlock Device?

An ignition interlock device is a breathalyzer for a car. It’s a very small device that’s installed on the dashboard. The purpose of the device is to detect the presence of alcohol in a person’s breath.

Before the car can be started, the driver must provide a breath sample into the device. A positive reading will prevent the car from starting. To ensure that the driver didn’t have someone else blow into the device for them, random breath samples will be requested during the entire time the engine is running.

If alcohol is detected while the engine is running, the device will log the event, give the driver a warning and then start up an alarm. The alarm is typically flashing lights and a honking horn, which will not stop until the car is shut off or a clean breath sample is given. It’s extremely important in this instance to provide another breath sample when asked.

In addition to detecting alcohol, these devices are also designed to detect any sort of tampering. If you try to remove the device or tamper with it in any way, an alarm will sound and the event will be logged.

Can Anything Other Than Alcohol Cause a Positive Reading?

It’s important to understand that there are many things besides drinking alcohol that can cause a positive reading on the device, such as:

  • windshield washer fluid,
  • gasoline,
  • paint solvents, and
  • any other product that contain alcohol.

Even certain foods and drinks, such as vanilla, pizza and some energy drinks, contain alcohol. Therefore, consuming them before blowing into the device can cause a false positive. Keep in mind that if you can smell things like paint solvents in your car, it’s quite possible that the interlock device can detect it as well.

Since consuming alcohol isn’t the only thing that can cause a positive reading, it’s extremely important that you provide additional breath samples when asked to do so. Providing a negative reading for alcohol within minutes after a positive reading will help prove that you weren’t drinking and driving.

How To Maintain the Interlock Device

The interlock device must periodically be taken back to the provider for maintenance, at which time all of your event logs will be downloaded. If there are any major violations, a report will be sent to the DLAD office.

  • Examples of a major violation include:
  • missed or positive rolling retest,
  • tampering with the device, or
  • three start up failures with a level above .025 grams of alcohol per 100 liters of breath.

Once the DLAD is notified of a major violation, the driver’s restricted driving privileges will be revoked and he/she will have to go before the hearing officer and explain what happened. The rehearing takes about eight (8) weeks to be scheduled.

If there’s a violation, all documentary evidence should be collected for presentation to the hearing officer including receipts and letters from witnesses. These receipts along with your personal records will drastically increase your chances of success at a violation hearing.

The Takeaway

It’s very important to keep good records. It’s always a good idea to keep track of any alarms or error messages that you receive and to immediately call the provider and explain what happened to them.

It should be clear by now that understanding how the breath alcohol ignition interlock device works is critical.

Keeping good records will always keep you and your attorney one step ahead of any potential problems. Therefore, when it comes time to explain it to the hearing officer, you’ll be ready. Contact our office today to learn more on how to fight an interlock violation.

Facing DUI charges? Unhappy with your current attorney? Request a free consultation now.


Barton Morris
Barton Morris has been providing high-quality legal representation in the area of state and federal criminal defense for more than 20 years.
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Barton Morris
Barton Morris has been providing high-quality legal representation in the area of state and federal criminal defense for more than 20 years.
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