As a Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyer, I have seen a dramatic rise in the number of ignition interlock violations in recent years, along with a notable increase in the amount of people who lose their driver’s licenses as a result. Although being violated is not good news for anyone required to use an interlock, at least this doesn’t happen randomly, or without a clear reason. In fact, there is usually an objective and understandable cause underlying why most violations are brought. We may not like the reasons, but the whole license appeal and violation process is controlled by very specific rules. As it turns out, almost everyone who has his or her license taken away again because of an interlock violation could have avoided it. Perhaps the most regrettable of these situations is when I’m contacted by someone after they’ve gone in an tried to represent themselves in a violation hearing, lost, and then wonders if there’s anything that can still be done. Almost without exception, the answer is always no.
This could almost sound like a set up for some self-serving piece where I tell the reader to just “hire me,” but it’s not. Whatever else, the idea of hiring me (or any lawyer, for that matter) after you’ve lost a violation hearing is a perfect example of the old saying “a day late and a dollar short.” Ideally, it’s best to avoid a violation altogether, but the likely reality is that it’s probably too late for just about anyone and everyone reading this to do that. This isn’t as academic a notion as it sounds, because there is a section in every winning order granting a license appeal about proper ignition interlock use, that, if followed, will prevent most violations from ever happening in the first place, while providing instructions to get the evidence needed to successfully defend yourself and win your license back at a violation hearing in the event it cannot be avoided.
We’re not going to get into all the different kinds of violations and how they should be handled, lest we start examining an almost endless list of possible scenarios. Instead, I want to look at why the Michigan Secretary of State seems so keen to issue violations in the first place, because that is directly relevant to how they should be handled. First off, in answer to a few questions that haven’t been asked yet: Yes, this is (in many cases) unfair; yes, this does suck, and no, it doesn’t seem very efficient. Once you receive a notice of violation, however, there is nothing you can do to stop it from taking effect. In other words, you are going to lose the ability to drive, at least until this is resolved.