My car will not start. Ignition Interlock Device Emergency

In Michigan, the process to restore driving privileges after two or more drunk driving convictions is long and arduous. License restoration represents a change in lifestyle for the petitioner. The old drinker is gone, replaced with a sober and more complete person. However, the Michigan Secretary of State and AHS do not issue driver’s licenses without hard proof that the petitioner is sober and can drive according to the rules of the road.  An ignition interlock device creates the evidence necessary for the DAAD to restore driving privileges. 

Nearly every license restoration case in Traverse City Michigan starts with a one-year restricted driver’s license with a breath alcohol ignition interlock device, (BAIID) installed in the petitioner’s automobile. I wish I could say the petitioner’s driving hardship was over. But I can’t. Often people experience problems while driving with an alcohol ignition interlock device attached to their automobile. These problems are very stressful for the petitioner because winning a restricted license takes an enormous amount of time and effort. All that hard work may be lost because of a false positive from the ignition interlock device.

My BAIID will not start my car. What do I do?

After a failed first blow, the most important thing for a driver to do is retest and blow again. Each model of an ignition interlock is different. But all of them will prompt the driver to blow a second time after test failure. Most ignition interlock devices will not display the results of the test; the machine doesn’t tell the driver how much alcohol was detected. The unit will display a failure or warning message. The absolute worst thing for a driver to do is not retest, especially in the early morning. Most people are caught drinking alcohol via the early morning breath alcohol test. All that booze from the night before lingers in the body until early the next day. The hearing examiner at the DAAD will assume the driver attempted to start the car early the next day after a long night of drinking. The hearing examiner will think the driver didn’t take the second test because they were afraid to test positive again.

Now let us look at how the OHAO and Secretary of State define a “Start-up test failure,” here is the link: Click here.

R 257.301a(j) “Start-up test failure” means the BAIID has prevented the motor vehicle
from being started after a start-up test. This subdivision does not apply if a passing test
is provided within 15 minutes of the initial start-up test. Multiple unsuccessful attempts
at 1 time to start the vehicle shall be treated as 1 start-up test failure under this
subdivision. Unsuccessful attempts 1 hour or more apart shall be treated as separate
start-up test failures under this subdivision.

One true start-up test failure will be negated by a clean test, or start-up, within 15 minutes of the failed test. This reprieve is why it is so important to continue retesting when an ignition interlock device prevents the car from starting up. Before the second test, the driver should make every effort to rinse their mouth with water.

In summary. Never walk away from a start-up test failure. Instead, sit in the automobile and test over until the car starts.

Multiple start-up test failures. What do I do now?

After multiple attempts to start the car, all resulting in ignition interlock test failures, the driver/petitioner must become proactive. The driver should immediately retrace their steps before testing. The driver should carefully document all the food they ate or drank before taking the test. The driver should be particular, noting the brands and flavors of the food or drink.

Next, the driver should contact the ignition interlock device company, or service provider, and report the test failures.

Finally, the driver must take all steps to prove abstinence from alcohol on the day of the start-up test failure(s). In Michigan, the DAAD will not presume that the ignition interlock device was malfunctioning. Instead, the hearing examiner will presume the driver was caught drinking alcohol. “My unit was broken,” will not save the driver’s restricted license.


Start-up test failures are a problem. There is a two-month break-in period for new drivers using an ignition interlock device. After two months, any start-up test failure will be held against the driver and may result in the loss of a restricted driver’s license.

Make no mistake; the driver must take immediate action to prove they were not consuming alcohol on the dates and times when there was a start-up test failure. The best evidence to prove abstinence must be collected within 48 hours of the start-up failures. I am a driver’s license restoration attorney practicing in Traverse City Michigan and all of northern Michigan. If the reader doesn’t know how to prove their abstinence from alcohol, they should call me immediately. I charge an hourly rate for this emergency service. 231-883-4170.

About the author:

Matthew Benedict is a driver’s restoration attorney practicing law in Traverse City and all of Northern Michigan. Call today for an appointment: 231-883-4170. Please visit my driver’s license restoration blog here.

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