Michigan law has little tolerance for any person who is drinking and driving on a public roadway. The first DUI offense will generally result in a restricted or suspended operator’s license. A person who has two or more DUI offenses within a seven-year period will have their operator’s license revoked for a minimum of one year. That person may later petition the Michigan Secretary of State for an administrative hearing to determine if that person is approved to drive again. If successful, that person may be granted a restricted license with limitations on where and when a vehicle can be operated. In addition to these restrictions, Michigan statute requires that driver to have an ignition interlock device installed on their car for a minimum of one year as a prerequisite for full driving privileges.
The ignition interlock device is essentially a breathalyzer machine in a vehicle that the driver is required to blow into before the engine can start. If any alcohol is present in that person’s breath, then the ignition interlock device will prevent the vehicle from running. Additional breath samples may be required while the vehicle is in operation (as a measure to ensure someone else’s breath was not used for vehicle operation). Periodically, the interlock device must be taken to an approved provider to download the data into a report that may be provided to the Secretary of State. If any major violations are reported (e.g. too many start-up failures due to intoxication, tampering, missed retesting), then the Secretary of State can revoke the restricted license privileges and the driver may have to start the license restoration process over again. At the end of the day, the ignition interlock device is intended to provide evidence to the State of Michigan that the driver has truly renounced alcohol use and can be trusted to receive a full operator’s license again.
If someone is required by the Michigan Secretary of State to have an ignition interlock device installed before operating a vehicle, he or she must abide by ALL OF THE FOLLOWING:
- “A person who is only permitted to operate a motor vehicle equipped with an ignition interlock device shall not operate a motor vehicle on which an ignition interlock device is not properly installed.” MCL 257.625l(2).
- “A person who has an ignition interlock device installed and whose driving privilege is restricted shall not request, solicit, or allow any other person to blow into an ignition interlock device or to start a vehicle equipped with the device for the purpose of providing the person whose driving privilege is restricted with an operable vehicle.” MCL 257.625l(3).
- “A person shall not blow into an ignition interlock device or start a motor vehicle equipped with the device for the purpose of providing an operable vehicle to a person who has an interlock device installed and whose driving privilege is restricted.” MCL 257.625l(4).
- “A person shall not tamper with or circumvent the operation of an ignition interlock device.” MCL 257.625l(5).
Any person who attempts to tamper or circumvent the ignition interlock device is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by a fine up to $5,000.00 or up to 6 months in jail, or both. MCL 257.625l(6).
In addition, “[i]f a law enforcement officer detains the operator of a motor vehicle for violating a law of this state or a local ordinance and the operator is a person required to only operate a motor vehicle with an ignition interlock device properly installed, but no ignition interlock device is properly installed on the motor vehicle, the law enforcement officer shall impound the motor vehicle.” MCL 257.625l(7).
- If a motor vehicle impounded under this subsection is individually or jointly owned by the operator, the law enforcement officer shall do all of the following:
- (1) Immediately confiscate the motor vehicle registration plate and destroy it.
- (2) Issue a temporary registration plate for the vehicle in the same manner prescribed by the secretary of state for temporary registration plates.
- (3) Place the temporary registration plate issued on the motor vehicle in the manner prescribed by the secretary of state.
- (4) Notify the secretary of state through the law enforcement information network in a form prescribed by the secretary of state that the registration plate was destroyed and a temporary registration plate was issued to the motor vehicle.
- A temporary registration plate issued under this section is valid until the charges of operating a vehicle without an ignition interlock device are dismissed, the person pleads guilty or no contest to the charge, or the person is found guilty of or is acquitted of the charge. MCL 257.625l(8).
- If the motor vehicle impounded under this section is not owned individually or jointly by the operator, the law enforcement officer shall impound the motor vehicle by contacting a local towing agency. The motor vehicle shall only be returned to the registered owner. MCL 257.625l(9).
- The owner of a motor vehicle impounded under this section is liable for the expenses incurred in the removal and storage of the motor vehicle whether or not it is returned to him or her. The motor vehicle shall be returned to the owner only if the owner pays the expenses of removal and storage. If redemption is not made or the vehicle is not returned as described under this subsection, it shall be considered an abandoned vehicle and disposed of according to law. MCL 257.625l(10).
Foolishly tampering with or interfering with the operation of an ignition interlock device can undo years spent trying to recover your driver’s license. In addition, there may be criminal consequences that can result in fines, probation or even incarceration. If you are accused of an ignition interlock violation, you need a skilled lawyer in your corner to protect your rights.
If you have further questions about ignition interlock devices or need legal representation, then do not hesitate to contact the experienced attorneys at Kershaw, Vititoe & Jedinak PLC today.