The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles has renewed its efforts to impose 10-year license revocations for ignition interlock violations, including initial start failures, which occur when the ignition interlock prevents a vehicle from starting due to the detection of alcohol. Until recently, the Registry would not penalize customers for this type of alleged ignition interlock violation.
This Ignition Interlock Violation crackdown comes in the aftermath of the deaths of the of 7 motorcyclists killed in New Hampshire by Volodymyr Zhukovskyy, the holder of a Massachusetts Commercial Driver’s License which should have been suspended due to an out of state DUI arrest and breathalyzer refusal. The Registry seems to be making up for lost time by revoking large numbers of licenses.
The Registry has recently brought in a large number of Massachusetts ignition interlock users for interlock violation hearings. Some of these customers are on full-time licenses and others are driving on hardship licenses issued by either the Registry or the Board of Appeal. Many of these violation hearings have resulted in 10-year license revocations.
Most of the violations are for failed start tests, which occur when a driver attempted to start his or her vehicle after having consumed alcohol. The violation threshold used in Massachusetts is .02, the lowest in the country and in most cases, the ignition interlock devices are detecting residual alcohol from the night before.
Sometimes, the interlock will report false positive tests that were triggered by cough medicine, mouthwash, toothpaste, breath mints, baked goods, acid reflux or other products. Ignition interlock devices are not designed to be scientific test instruments and they lack the sophistication of breathalyzers used in Massachusetts DUI cases, such as the Draeger Alcotest. Nevertheless, the Registry relies on these results to impose 10-year license revocations.
One way to protect yourself and your license is to use a personal hand-held breath test device prior to attempting to start your car. If your device registers the presence of alcohol, you should not attempt to start your vehicle until your device registers .00.
If you are the unfortunate recipient of an ignition interlock hearing notice or 10-year ignition interlock license revocation, please contact my office so that we can discuss how I can help you. I have prevented and reversed IID revocations in a large number of cases with persuasive factual and legal arguments.
There are many effective defenses available to those accused of ignition interlock violations and these revocations should absolutely be appealed.