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What You Need to Know About Ignition Interlock Devices in Michigan


Ignition interlock devices are commonly used by convicted drunk driving defendants to reduce the occurrence of repeat drunk driving. There has been a steady increase in the manufacturing of such devices throughout the past decade. This is in large part due to the fact that more states across the nation are requiring convicted DUI offenders to use the devices in an effort to reduce drunk driving accidents and criminal offenses.

Read on to learn more about the use of ignition interlock devices in Washtenaw County.

What is an Ignition Interlock Device?

Ignition interlock devices are alcohol breath testing devices that are commonly installed in vehicles to prevent drunk driving. The driver must blow into the device and pass the breath test before being able to start his or her vehicle. Further, the driver must repeatedly blow into the device after a set duration of time while the vehicle is in operation. If the driver blows higher than the prescribed legal limit, his or her vehicle will turn off upon coming to a complete stop.

In Michigan, if you are convicted of High BAC or Super Drunk and/or repeatedly convicted of operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol (OWI), you will be required to install an ignition interlock device into your vehicle. Alternatively, a judge may order you to install the device as a condition of your probation.

How Effective are Ignition Interlock Devices?

Ignition interlock devices are extremely effective in preventing intoxicated individuals from driving. Research studies have demonstrated a significant reduction in recidivism while the devices are installed. For instance, a study in Maryland among repeat offenders showed a significant reduction in recidivism of 64% among these multiple offenders while the interlock was in place (Beck, et al., 1999).

Convicted drunk drivers often complain that the devices are a bit intrusive. A common annoyance amongst the drivers is the repeated breath testing that is required while operating the vehicle. Additionally, because the BAC level is relatively low (the vehicle will not start if the driver's BAC registers between .02% to .04%), if a driver consumes one drink, the vehicle will not start. The device must be installed on all vehicles registered to and/or operated by the convicted driver, including work vehicles. Needless to say, employers are not likely to agree to installation of the devices on company vehicles, thus placing the convicted driver's employment at risk.

The device also places restrictions on the driver's family members who want to drive the vehicle. They are required to pass the breath test as well before the vehicle starts. Further, if the family member consumes an alcoholic beverage, they must insure that their BAC is below the .02% threshold before taking the device's breath test. Given the circumstances, family members are not likely to want to drive the vehicle and will need to find alternative methods of transportation.

Though there are some common annoyances with using the device, the pros still outweigh the cons.

If you have been convicted of an OWI in Ann Arbor, contact me for a case review. I can be reached at 734.274.6567.


Beck, K., Rauch, W., Baker, E., Williams, A. (1999). Effects of ignition interlock license restrictions on drivers with multiple alcohol offenses: A random trail in Maryland. American Journal of Public Health 89: 1696-1700

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