License Restoration in Michigan - the Ignition Interlock Requirement - Part 1

May 20, 2011

In this blog, it has been my goal to cover every aspect of Driver's License Restoration. I have approached this by writing 2 kinds of articles: The more general, or "overview" type, and those that cover a particular aspect of the License Restoration process in great detail. This article will likely fall into that first category, being more general in nature.

Most of the time I spend with License Restoration Clients involves preparing them for the Substance Abuse Evaluation, which takes about 3 hours in my Office at the time of our first meeting, and then preparing them for the actual Hearing. In truth, very little of my time is spent on what happens after we win our License Appeal and the person gets back on the road.

Interlock5.jpgI don't really consider this any kind of oversight. My job is to win License Appeals, and I guarantee any Client that I will do just that, or their next round is FREE. Once a License Appeal has been won, the Secretary of State, for all of its shortcomings, is pretty good at explaining the steps involved in getting behind the wheel again.

There have, however, been a few changes in recent years regarding what can and must be done once a person has won a Driver's License Restoration case, and many of these involve the rules regarding the ignition interlock device that must be installed by any Michigan resident who wins a Driver's License Restoration Appeal.

Chief amongst those changes has been the rule, or rules, concerning the ignition interlock.

Most everyone knows that if they win their Appeal, they'll be required to install something in their car. Beyond that however, most people are unsure of what, for how long, and under what condition they must use it.

The ignition interlock unit is a kind of breath-tester that requires the person to give a breath sample before the car will even start. Beyond that, the machine goes "off" from time to time and requires the driver to continue to give breath samples as the vehicle is being operated.

A condition of any License Ordered as a result of a License Appeal is that the person ONLY drives a vehicle equipped with the device. To be clear, NONE of this applies to out-of-state cases where a person is seeking a "Clearance." Instead, it only, but always, applies to any case where a Michigan resident is seeking some kind of Restoration of his or her Michigan driving privileges.

This comes up in situations where people may be able to use a company car. It has also come up when someone works at a car dealership, and has to drive a vehicle around the lot, or take it for a test drive. In those cases, unless that car is equipped with an ignition interlock device, they CANNOT drive it. This almost always means that the person will be limited to using the 1 vehicle. Nor does it matter if it is their car, or someone else's. In other words, a person can use a wife registered to another person, as long as they have the interlock device installed in it.

This does, however, create certain problems. The device affects anyone using the car, and also records the alcohol content of anyone who uses the car. This means that if someone else moves the car belonging to a person required to have an interlock unit installed in it, and that other person blows into the unit and tests positive for alcohol, that result is attributed to the person required to have the unit.

This means that a person under DAAD Order must NEVER let anyone use their car who has so much as used mouthwash recently, or they'll be the ones dealing with a positive blow test. The DAAD, rather understandably, does not usually buy stories of someone else having used the car and caused the positive test result for alcohol.

To be clear, then, when a person wins a License Appeal for Restoration of Michigan Driving Privileges, the License they get limits them to ONLY operating a vehicle equipped with an ignition interlock. No matter, what, if the person is found operating a vehicle without the device, they will be in violation of the terms of their Restricted License, and will have to go before the DAAD to "show cause" why they should not lose it.

And while not the subject here, any License granted for a Michigan resident (in other words, NOT a Clearance for an out-of-state resident) will absolutely, 100% for-sure be a Restricted License. That will be the subject of another article.

In part 2 of this article, we'll continue our examination of the ignition interlock requirement for those who win a Michigan License Appeal, and look at eligibility to have it removed, and what kinds of problems one can encounter (and should avoid) during the period in which they must drive with it.