Initial Start Ignition Interlock Violations

The Registry’s Ignition Interlock Department is now penalizing drivers for initial start ignition interlock violations. Previously, the Registry would only take action on missed or failed rolling re-tests. Now, failed initial start tests are resulting in Ignition Interlock Violation Hearings.

An initial start failure occurs when the ignition interlock device detects alcohol above the BAC level of .02. When this occurs, the ignition interlock device (IID) may go into a “holding pattern” for a period of thirty (30) minutes. During this 30-minute waiting period, the driver should thoroughly rinse his or her mouth out with water and ensure that there are no chemicals or anything in the vehicle which could be falsely registering as alcohol.

Once the 30-minute waiting period has expired, the IID user will be given another opportunity to provide a breath sample. If this breath sample results in a reading above .02, the device will go into lockout status and it must be brought into a service provider to be downloaded within 48 hours. The vehicle will not start unless and until the breath sample registers at or below 02.

The Registry has interpreted G.L. c. 90 § 24 ½ to allow it to impose 10-year license revocations whenever an Ignition Interlock Device registers an alcohol reading of greater than .02 on two or more occasions or whenever the IID prevents a vehicle from starting on at least 2 occasions. In those situations, the Registry is now sending hearing notices to its customers and notices of intent to suspend, with the indefinite Ignition Interlock Violation suspension being scheduled to go into effect 10 days after the scheduled IVO hearing.

The Registry’s Ignition Interlock Department has moved from 25 Newport Ave Extension in Quincy to the Registry’s main branch at 136 Blackstone Street in Boston. All ignition interlock violation cases are heard there. The hearings are electronically recorded and you have the right to be represented by a lawyer, which I highly recommend. My office has been very successful in handling Ignition Interlock Violations.

If you experience a “false positive” ignition interlock violation, you should immediately document what happened and report the incident to your IID vendor. Some clients have protected themselves by requesting a comparison breath test from their local police department or urgent care healthcare provider. Not all police departments will comply with a breath test request. You can also purchase your own handheld breath test device.

The Interlock Program places the burden on the customer to take the steps necessary to properly document and report an unwarranted violation. One way to do this is to promptly call the Interlock Department and speak with a hearing officer. You should describe exactly what happened and include the exact date and time. You should follow any instructions the hearing officer provides.

RMV Requires Ignition Interlock Device

ignition interlock deviceIf the Registry of Motor Vehicles suspended your driver’s license or right to operate for Operating Under the Influence of Drugs or Alcohol, and you have a prior DUI conviction, regardless or when or where it occurred, you will be required to use an ignition interlock device while you are on a hardship license and for a minimum of 2 years after getting the hardship hours removed from your license. The Registry makes no exceptions when it comes to the ignition interlock device (IID) requirement, which is mandated for all repeat DUI offenders. Your license will be IID restricted even if the court treated you as a first offender or you were given a “Cahill” or “Second Chance, First Offender” disposition.

The initial lease fee for the IID is approximately $200.00 and you must pay a $100.00 monthly monitoring fee. These fees are mandatory and there are no waivers for those who are indigent.

All states now have some form of an ignition interlock program. In some states, such as New York, the IID is required even for first offenders. In Massachusetts, it is required for those with 2nd, 3rd, and 4th offenses. Those with 5DUI offenses will have their licenses revoked for life, with no ability to apply for a hardship or work license.

If you are a repeat DUI offender and have been cleared for either hardship relief or a full license reinstatement, you must have the IID installed by a certified vendor. Once the IID is installed, you need to bring proof of installation to a Registry Hearings Officer in order to reinstate your license. You will have to sign a package of forms which explain the Registry’s IID program and the rules which you must obey to avoid the loss of your license. You must sign this package in the presence of a Notary Public and it must be notarized. Any license driver who lives with you must also sign paperwork stating that he or she knows that your license is IID restricted.

In most cases, you will be required to take a written and road test to get your license reinstated. If you are required to re-test, you must have the IID installed prior to taking the road test. You will take the test in the IID equipped vehicle.

If you commit an ignition interlock violation by missing rolling re-tests, failing rolling re-tests, failing to have the device downloaded as required, or tampering with, disconnecting, or circumventing the IID, your license will be revoked for 10 years or life. Also, operating a vehicle without the IID during your restriction period will result in a 10 year license revocation, regardless of whether or not you were charged criminally or convicted.

There’s No Way Around the Ignition Interlock Requirement

Inquiry: I am inquiring on behalf of my son who had an operating under the influence (OUI) offense in April of 2013. It was marked as a second offense, although his first offense was 25 years ago when he was 21 years old. He is a full time marine mechanic and self-employed, needs his driver’s license to service his customers, haul boats, make money for his child support and to pick up and drop off his children for his visits with them. He was given a 45 days loss of license and 1 year probation and he had to attend alcohol school. Probation is up in April. He did complete the 24D alcohol course and his 45 day license suspension. It is my understanding that his penalty was what is handed out for a first offense. He does not have the money for several ignition interlock devices for his work truck, personal SUV to pick up his children and to haul customers boats for the various marinas that he contracts with. Is there any way to appeal the ignition interlock order, get him a hardship license or anything else so he can work and support his children? He really needs to do something about this soon, as March 1st starts the boating season for 2014 and he needs to be able to work. Thank you.

Answer: There are absolutely no exceptions to the ignition interlock requirement. Anyone whose license was suspended for OUI on or after January 1, 2006 who has a prior OUI conviction or alcohol program assignment is IID required for at least 2 years after getting a full license reinstatement and there is nothing that can be done to get around this requirement.

The Mass. Ignition Interlock Device Law

The IID requirement in of Melanie’s Law, G. L. c. 90, § 24 ½, requires a driver whose license was suspended due to a program assignment or an OUI conviction to install an ignition interlock device (IID) if his driving history included a prior assignment or conviction at the time he applied to the Registry for reinstatement of his driver’s license.

When someone who has had his driver’s license suspended for an OUI conviction, or an assignment to an alcohol education program, applies to the Mass. RMV for a new license or to have his Massachusetts license or right to operate restored, and he has had a previous OUI conviction or alcohol program assignment, the new or restored license may only be issued upon the condition that the driver have an ignition interlock device  installed on every motor vehicle he owns, operates or leases for at least a 2 year period. This requirement, contained in amendments to the Massachusetts OUI law, and enacted as part of Melanie’s Law, was made effective on January 1, 2006.

As long as the event triggering the imposition of the IID requirement, that is, the application for a new or reinstated license, takes place after January 1, 2006, then Melanie’s Law applies prospectively and can permissibly take into account events occurring prior to its effective date, i.e., the previous drunk driving license suspensions,  DUI convictions,  and alcohol program assignments.

The Massachusetts IID requirement applies where a person is eligible to have his or her license reinstated prior to the effective date of Melanie’s Law but he or she did not apply for reinstatement until after Melanie’s Law goes into effect. The Massachusetts ignition interlock device requirement was determined to not be retroactive where the application for reinstatement of the license triggered IID requirement and application was made after statute went into effect.

You should contact a lawyer if you have questions regarding whether the ignition interlock device requirement applies to you, or if you have been accused of an ignition interlock device violation, which can trigger a 10 year or lifetime license revocation in Massachusetts.

Ignition Interlock Device Q&A

I recently received this e-mail from a client who I helped obtain a hardship license on a 2nd offense OUI.

I have successfully dealt with the interlock for a year and a half – I have maintained my sobriety date of July 26, 2010 but have had two recent issues and I am soliciting data from the interlock company – Draeger.  Three months ago, and again last week, I was warned by the interlock unit I had two days before being locked out.  The message came out of nowhere with no warning.  In both cases when serviced at the dealer, the file indicated I had “refused” a retest request 2 separate rimes – which results in the warning of the immanent lock out.  It happened 3 months ago and again last week.  I have contested this with the garage and with Draeger and they are sending me the detailed data of each test and when the issue occurred.  I am sure it is a malfunction but Draeger sees nothing in the data to suggest it is.  I have not received any kind of notice from the State but I want to be proactive,.  Should I see you?  Should I arrange a time with the hearing officer?  My removal date is September 2014 and I have been clean other than 2 false positives back last summer when I used an epinephrine inhaler and with bug spray – otherwise totally clean.  Do I need to worry?  I greatly appreciate your help and am happy to pay for your consult.  God bless the folks that continue drinking – if this is the crap that happens with a sober person I can only imagine what happens to a person who consumes alcohol.  Thanks

Here’s the answer:

Two Missed Rolling Re-tests within one Service Period will initiate a lockout and you need Two Lockouts due to Missed Rolling Re-tests to constitute an Ignition Interlock Violation. Therefore, I don’t think that you will receive a hearing notice. In order to get the device removed, you must have no “infractions” within the 6 month period immediately prior to your removal date. Two Missed Rolling Re-tests within one Service Period constitutes an infraction, So long as you do not have any infractions between April of 2014 and your removal date in September, you should be all set.