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Ignition Interlock Violation Lawyer in Michigan

An Ignition Interlock Violation can be one of the more frustrating things you can go through with the Secretary of State. As you may well know by now, once the train starts rolling, there is no one you can call to just shut it down. However, you don’t have to stand on the tracks. There are numerous innocent ways a person can find themselves defending against a Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device (BAIID) violation. Being charged with a violation can be as simple as leaving your vehicle running while you dash inside to grab your wallet. If the device asked for a “rolling retest” while you were inside, then you have likely found yourself defending against a violation. It is not uncommon for someone who is genuinely sober and working a good recovery program to find themselves defending against a violation. Today, we are going to look at some of the ways a violation can occur and the common defenses an experienced BAIID violation attorney can use to win your hearing. Our driver’s license attorneys can help.

Understanding Major vs. Minor Violations

There are several types of violations that can occur with the BAIID. Our lawyers will go through the most common. An important distinction to understand is the difference between “minor violations” and “major violations.”

What are the Minor Violations?

The most common minor violation is failing to keep your appointment with the service provider and not rescheduling within seven days. This will count as a minor violation and be reported by the service provider to the Secretary of State. Next, is a "start-up failure violation." A start-up failure means the device prevented your vehicle from starting because it has detected alcohol. If your device records three start-up test failures within a monitoring period, it will count as a minor violation.

What are the Consequences for a Minor Violation?

The consequences of a minor violation are an automatic three-month extension of the monitoring period. Additionally, three minor violations in one monitoring period will result in a major violation.

What are the Major Violations?

Major violations are a pain. As previously mentioned, once the train starts moving down the tracks there is no one you can call to stop it. You will need to go in for a hearing and present a defense. Until that time, the consequences take effect immediately once the violation is issued. The consequence for a major violation is the immediate reinstatement of your original driver’s license revocation or denial. This means whatever the situation was before you won your restricted license at the license restoration hearing, the revocation or suspension is back in effect.

Tampering or Circumventing the Device

This can occur for a number of reasons including having someone else blow into your device before you get behind the wheel. However, since 2016 all BAIID’s are now equipped with digital cameras to avoid these types of violations.

A more common set of circumstances leading to a circumvention violation is an electrical failure or an electrical disconnection. This can happen for a multitude of reasons. The most common situation is an older vehicle that may have faulty wiring. A slight interruption in the electrical wiring can cause the device to trigger its circumvention and tampering prevention provisions. Another likely scenario is having routine maintenance or electrical work performed at an auto garage.

It is frustrating that you can be violated for having your vehicle worked on, but in Michigan the tampering and electrical circumvention triggers do not get turned off when a vehicle goes in for routine maintenance. It is a bit of a nuisance that other states seem to have handled better. For instance, in Ohio when you call the service provider to explain that your vehicle will be undergoing maintenance, you get a form certifying the mechanics work and the service provider will disengage the device while it is at the garage. Michigan currently does not allow the device to be disengaged for any reason. Therefore, you are responsible for it while it is at a garage. Some service providers, such as Lifesafer, do provide a form for you to submit to the mechanic that documents work is being done on the vehicle. This way if your vehicle is being serviced and the electrical circumvention prevention mechanism is triggered, you have proof the vehicle was in the shop for maintenance. You still may have to go to the Office of Administrative Hearings and Oversight for a hearing to demonstrate that your vehicle was in for maintenance.

Rolling Retest’s: Missing and Failing the Test

Failing to take a rolling retest is perhaps the most frustrating of the violations, because it is so easy to do and once it is logged, there is not much you can do. A rolling retest is a prompt to take an additional breathalyzer test after the vehicle has already been started. Therefore, presumably you are “rolling” when the device prompts you for another test. However, as you may know by now this is not always the case. If the engine is left running it will continue to cycle through the random pattern of prompting for tests. There is typically a test prompt in the first five minutes of operation, and then another within the first 40 minutes of operation. So, if you are idling in park with the music on loud eating a sandwich and do not hear or see the prompt for a retest, you now have a major violation due to a missed rolling retest. The most common is running back inside to grab an item you may have forgotten while leaving the engine running or pulling over to check for a flat tire. However innocent the circumstances were that led you to not seeing or hearing a request for another test, the presumption is that you avoided the test because you had been consuming alcohol and did not want to get caught. This certainly does not seem fair, but the good news is our ignition interlock violation lawyers have experience winning BAIID violation hearings.

A very similar major violation is failing a rolling retest. A failed rolling retest occurs when you register a blood alcohol content (BAC) reading of over .025, and you fail to test below .025 on a second test within five minutes of the first test. Failing a rolling retest, like an initial start-up failure, is likely a “false positive.” False positives for rolling retests are typically caused by eating while driving or perhaps mouthwash. Yeast and bread products can trigger false positives and cause the device to register a false alcohol reading. If the cause was the sandwich or the artisanal bread you just ate, then a retest five minutes later is not going to do you much good.

Defenses for a Missed Rolling Retest

The strongest defense for a missed rolling retest, a failed rolling retest, or an initial start-up failure is your continued sobriety and reliable recovery support network. You should go get a laboratory 250 Level ETG test performed within 24 hours of the violation. The ETG test must be taken in the 24 hour window or the State will reject it. Producing letters of support demonstrating your sobriety can also be very helpful. The main thing is you will want to have a cohesive and comprehensive package when you go before the Office of Hearings and Administrative Oversight Board, because just explaining your side of the story will not likely be enough.

Our skilled and experienced team of lawyers at Grabel & Associates can make sure you have taken every available step to be prepared for your appeal. We will artfully articulate the nuances of what occurred, why you are innocent, and why justice dictates the violation should be dismissed. If you win this hearing it will be like the violation never happened. You can return to your restricted driving privileges and finish your one year using the BAIID before you submit a petition for your full driving privileges. Let us help you get past this barrier and back on the road towards receiving your full driving privileges. Contact us online or call for your free consultation today at 1-800-677-9795.

Please note: Recently Administrative Hearings Section (AHS) changed their name to the Office of Hearings and Administrative Oversight. Common use of the name Office of Hearings and Administrative Oversight has not yet been widely accepted and the entity responsible for driver's license hearings is still referred to as AHS in almost all legal areas, which is why we continue to use the term "AHS" throughout our website. More information about this change can be found at the Michigan Secretary of State's website.

Client Reviews

There are many lawyers out there that claim to be able to get your license returned to you. I can truly say Scott Grabel and his team helped me get my driver’s license back the first time! Even though I thought it was an insurmountable task they walked me through every step of the process. Grabel & Associates are the people you need because they seem to have a formula that works D.A.
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The best law firm in the state. Outstanding communication and friendly. If you want or need to win your case this is the law firm that will take you there. All Personnel at this firm will do whatever it takes to win. They help me get my driver’s license back without me having to leave Alaska. From 1 to 10 THEY ARE #1 Tim K.