Man blowing into breathalyzerThe State of Michigan is very serious about keeping people who drink and drive off the roads. 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 DUI offenses within seven years the state revokes the offenders license for a minimum of one year. When eligible for its return, the state will require the use of a BAIID for at least one year.

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 be by time like 8 am to 7 pm, or by place like 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 full year as a prerequisite to receiving full driving privileges.  This helps prove to the State that the driver can drive safely and is evidence that all alcohol consumption has ceased.

Where do I get the interlock and 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 of the costs associated with the device including an initial installation fee of $100.00 to $200.00 and monthly rental fees between $70.00 and $100.00.

What exactly is the ignition interlock device?

An ignition interlock device is a Breathalyzer for a car.  It is a very small device that is 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 horn honking until the car is shut off or a clean breath sample is given.  It is 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.

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Can anything other than drinking 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 contain alcohol and consuming it before blowing into the device can cause a false positive like vanilla, pizza, and some energy drinks.  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.

Because consuming alcohol isn’t the only thing that can cause a positive reading, it is 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.

Maintaining the device and keeping a record

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 are a 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 or she will have to go before the hearing officer and explain what happened.  The rehearing takes about 8 weeks to be scheduled. If there is 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.

It is very important to keep good records. It is 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.  Keeping good records will always keep you and your attorney one step ahead of any potential problems and when it comes time to explain it to the hearing officer you will be ready