License Restoration in Michigan – the Ignition Interlock Requirement – Part 2

In part 1 of this article, we began our examination of the ignition interlock requirement for those who win a Michigan Drivers’ License Restoration Appeal. In this second part, we’ll examine the 1-year requirement for the ignition interlock device, and what happens if a person has a positive, or multiple positive alcohol tests while under the “supervision” of the device.

Beyond the requirement that a person install an ignition interlock unit in whatever vehicle they drive, they must keep that unit in the vehicle for a minimum of 1 year. At the end of that year, they may file for another Hearing before the Secretary of State’s DAAD, and seek permission to have the unit removed. This is a departure from before when, after a year had passed, a person could simply remove the unit.

ignition-interlock2.2.jpgTechnically speaking, a person could file for a Hearing to just remove the ignition interlock, but at the time a person becomes eligible to file an Appeal to remove the unit, they also become eligible to Appeal for full Restoration of driving privileges. It goes without saying, then, that everyone files for full Restoration AND to have the interlock unit removed.

This second Appeal is no different than the first, and requires an updated Substance Abuse Evaluation, new Letters of Support, and a whole, full-blown Hearing.

If, however, a person has what’s called a “major violation” while on the interlock, (meaning a rolling violation where the driver does not, within 5 minutes, provide a sample with a BAC of under .04, or the driver has 3 or more minor violations within a “monitoring period) then the interlock company sends notice to the DAAD and the person is bought in for a “show cause” Hearing, at which time the Secretary of State positions itself to Revoke their License all over again, unless the person can “show cause” why that should not happen. As noted before, the DAAD isn’t very sympathetic to explanations about positive breath test results.

As I have noted in various other articles I have written, after over 20 years of doing this, I’ve pretty much seen it all. A few years back I had a case where my Client, who was on a Restricted License with an interlock device, got into an argument with his girlfriend. It must have been a real humdinger, because she went to a nearby party store, bought a beer, chugged it down, and then sat in his car and tried to start it with fresh alcohol on her breath. The machine, of course, went crazy.

So did my Client.

He wound up making whatever amends were needed with his girlfriend on the spot, and they went to a local Police Station to make a report about what she did. After that, they found a local clinic and he went in and took a urine test that showed no alcohol in his system. Because of his quick thinking, he was able to save his License at his “show cause” Hearing. The bad part, however, was that he had moved out of State a few months before, and had to come in from Massachusetts for his “show cause.”

Some people go longer than the 1-year requirement before coming back in to have their License fully Restored and get the interlock device removed. Often, these individuals are content to just drive to and from work, or drive during whatever hours are allowed under the terms of their Restricted License. There is no harm in waiting, and no negative inference is ever made because a person goes beyond, or even way beyond their eligibility date to file for full Restoration and to have the interlock removed.

Whatever else, a person who wins “back” any Michigan driving privileges can only drive a vehicle equipped with an ignition interlock for a minimum of 1 year, and is held responsible for all test results generated by that machine.

At the time a person files for full Restoration, they obtain a certified “Final Report” from the interlock company which certifies that the person either did, or did not have any positive alcohol tests, and/or any “major violations,” although the DAAD will have been notified of any “major violations” right after any such occurred.

For those results under .04, there is no “show cause” Hearing promptly scheduled. Instead, those results along with 3 or more startup failures, within a “monitoring period” are called “minor violations.” A “minor violation” will result in a 3-month extension of the time a person must keep the interlock in their car, and will similarly extend the time at which they can file for full Restoration by the same 3 months. If a person has 3 “minor violations within any “monitoring period” is considered a “major violation.”

For all of this, a person is going to have to explain ANY instance where alcohol was detected. If there are multiple such incidents, and even they don’t amount to any kind of minor, much less major, violation, the person is still going to be on the hot seat to explain this away. It is never good to be in this situation.

Most people, however, don’t have such problems (which makes explaining them all the more difficult for anyone who does…), and complete their term of Restriction and interlock without any hitches.

If there’s any lesson in all of this, it is that winning a Restricted License is just a step (albeit a HUGE one) in the larger process of getting back on the road. For all the care a person must have taken to get that far, staying out of trouble from there forward shouldn’t be any kind of problem.