Driver's License Restoration

Major & Minor violations – driving with an ignition interlock device in Michigan

The Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device (BAIID) is a device that measures the alcohol level of the operator of an automobile. In Michigan, most drivers seeking to restore their driver’s license have to drive an automobile with an ignition interlock device for a minimum of a year. Over the years, the BAIID has become more complicated. The latest change, the Michigan Secretary of State requires all ignition interlock devices in Michigan to photograph the end user.

The best advice for anyone driving with an ignition interlock device installed in their automobile is to be proactive at any signs of problems with the device. Once the BAIID is installed, the driver/petitioner will be required to report to the device installer for test downloads. These downloads much occur no less than every 60 days. The service installer will report major and minor violations to the DAAD, Michigan Secretary of State. Once this happens, the driver/petitioner is on the path to losing their restricted license.

It is important for a driver to understand how the DAAD and Secretary of State categorize all the different potential violations. The regulation defines major and minor violations. A major violation causes the driver/petitioner to lose their restricted license.  Here is the link to the administrative rules: 

Click here.

Major violations:

1. A rolling retest violation. The interlock device will prompt the driver to pull over and take a test. If the driver doesn’t take the test, the interlock device records a violation. If the driver takes and records a breath sample containing alcohol, (BAC) of over .025, and a subsequent test within five minutes doesn’t show the BAC below .025, then the driver has failed the rolling retest.
2. The driver is arrested or convicted for another driving while intoxicated offense, either drunk driving or drugged driving.
3. The driver refuses to submit to an alcohol test pursuant to a drunk driving investigation.
4. The driver operates an automobile without an installed BAIID.
5. The driver tampers with the BAIID unit. Every restricted driving using an ignition interlock device should know that a loss in battery power will register as a tampering violation. A poor automobile battery has the potential to cause many problems.
6. Circumventing the BAIID. This violation includes people who try to connect an air pump to the interlock device. Also, a sober person could blow into the device to start the automobile. As of September 2016, all BAIID devices take photographs of the person blowing into the device. Also, hot wiring falls under the definition of circumventing.
7. Three minor violations within a monitoring period. The monitoring period is any period of time in which the BAIID is installed on an automobile.

Minor Violations: 

The following are minor violations:
1. After the interlock device has been installed for two months, three start-up test failures. To understand a start-up test failure requires an examination of the definition within the regulations. “‘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.” Morning tests are the most problematic. In the morning, before driving to work, most people eat food and clean their teeth. Simple foods, white bread, Honey Buns, will cause the ignition interlock device to register alcohol. There are many first test failures in the morning. Typically, the BAIID will prompt the driver for a second test, usually within five minutes.
The DAAD and Secretary of State give a driver two months to get to know the ignition interlock device. A driver experiencing start-up failures should closely examine their conduct to determine what is causing the failures. Food and mouthwash are probably the most common sources for a start-up failure.
2. The driver/petitioner fails to report to the BAIID installer or service provider within seven days of their scheduled service date. Recall, drivers with a BAIID must download the result at scheduled service dates. If there are no downloads, the goal of monitoring the driver fails.

The driver/petitioner using a BAIID under a restricted license needs to have a basic understanding of what will be held against them by the DAAD. All the while, drivers need to appreciate that the DAAD has no patience, or sympathy, for a driver/petitioner struggling to make their ignition interlock device work properly. A driver can’t blame the BAIID provider for their problems, the responsibility to make the monitoring work falls squarely on the driver.

A hearing is offered to the Driver to explain the violation(s) passed along to the DAAD. I can help anyone facing a such a hearing, but it’s important to contact me immediately after the car wouldn’t start. I practice in Traverse City Michigan and all of Northern Michigan.

The penalty for a major violation is the loss of the restricted driver’s license and the return of a driver’s revocation. The penalty for the minor violation is an extension of the time the driver has to use an ignition interlock device on their automobile.


About the Author:

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

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