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Understanding Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Devices (BAIIDs) in Michigan

Posted by Joseph J. Blata | Sep 13, 2023 | 0 Comments

Have you been investigated for, charged with, or found guilty of drunk driving in Michigan? As a consequence, you may have been ordered to install a breath alcohol ignition interlock device (BAIID) in your vehicle. This can be the result of either an administrative hearing or criminal conviction related to a drunk driving incident. BAIIDs can be useful in one way: they are often required when you want to drive but your license has been suspended. They can also cause you problems. These devices are hard to operate and can produce faulty results that can get you into more trouble.

At Triton Legal PLC, our OWI defense lawyer will inform you of your rights and help you understand your responsibilities while you fight OWI or OWI-related charges. This is especially true if you are required to install an BAIID in your vehicle. Contact us at (989) 439-9600 to schedule a free consultation and learn more about your legal options.

What is a Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device (BAIID)?

An ignition interlock device (BAIID) is a small device installed in a vehicle to measure the amount of alcohol in a person's breath. A driver must breathe into the device before driving, and if the BAIID registers the presence of alcohol over the legal limit, the car will not start. If the BAIID registers alcohol under the legal limit, the car can be started but with one caveat: a recorded warning is issued.

Everything the device records is reported to either the court or your state's department for motor vehicles (e.g., Michigan Secretary of State) – it depends on who ordered the BAIID device or who manages the BAIID program.

What Information is Recorded and Reported?

For your own information, it is good to know what information is or can be recorded and reported. Typically, reported information is pursuant to each BAIID program but may include any of the following:

  • Date and time of each startup or rolling test
  • Location of the vehicle at the time of each test, if equipped with a GPS
  • A photo of you at the time of each test, if equipped with a camera
  • Pass or fail results
  • BAC reading for each test
  • Number of lockouts, if any
  • Indication someone else tried to take the breath test
  • Any tampering with or removal of the IID
  • Missed service visits

When are Results Reported?

Results are reported at different times – again, depending on the specific state and the BAIID program. Generally, results are reported in real-time or at every service visit.

Why Are Ignition Interlock Devices Required in Michigan?

Every jurisdiction has its own rules regarding the installation of ignition interlock devices, but typically BAIIDs are ordered in any of the following circumstances:

  • Your driver's license was suspended, but you were granted a restricted or hardship license with the installation of a BAIID as a condition, allowing you to drive back and forth to work, school, doctor appointments, or another court-approved location.
  • You were convicted of drunk driving, and installation of a BAIID was part of the sentence.
  • You were granted a restricted driver's license by the Secretary of State or Circuit Court after having your driver's license revoked.

Three Problems Associated with BAIIDs in Michigan

BAIIDs are flawed devices. Many complaints exist but here are the top three problems.

  1. False Positives. False positives are a reality with BAIIDs. Common household products (like mouthwash, hand sanitizer, and cough syrup) and foods (like energy drinks, pickles, and fruits) have been known to cause a false positive.
  2. User Error. Like BAIIDs, people are flawed too. Some BAIIDs require drivers to hum while they blow into the device. This can be difficult for some people, causing the device to record a violation that does not exist. 
  3. Multiple Drivers. Many people share vehicles with their spouses and other family members, and there is no way to shut down an BAIID when the vehicle is being used by someone other than the person it is intended to monitor.

These problems are not insignificant. When an issue arises, it can create more legal worries with the Secretary of State. The state can also revoke the restricted license, meaning you can no longer drive your vehicle to/from work, school, etc.

While all these problems can cause frustration and affect your ability to drive, ignition interlock devices can also be dangerous. 

Dangers of Ignition Interlock Devices

What many people fail to realize is that BAIIDs not only test breath alcohol levels before allowing the car to start but also while the vehicle is in motion. This is known as “rolling testing” and is a common reason for BAIID criticism.

Drivers are randomly prompted to provide a breath sample while driving. The purpose is to confirm that an unlawful amount of alcohol is not present in their system while operating the vehicle. To submit a breath sample while driving, however, is a big distraction and takes your eyes off the road. The latter creates dangerous situations and leads to accidents.

The only way to stay safe, keep your driver's license, and avoid a criminal record is through a smart OWI defense strategy. There are no guarantees that you will keep your license and avoid a criminal conviction, but retaining a criminal defense lawyer improves your outcome.

Contact an OWI Defense Lawyer in Michigan Today

If you have been charged with a drunk driving offense, it is in your best interest to seek counsel from a defense attorney experienced with OWI cases in Michigan. Contact Triton Legal PLC by either using our online form or calling us at (989) 439-9600 for a free consultation.

About the Author

Joseph J. Blata

Need Comprehensive Legal Experience on Your Side? Meet the Owner of Triton Legal, Joseph J. Blata Mr. Blata's legal experiences have taken him down three main pathways: Criminal Defense, Family Law, and Driver's License Appeals and Restoration. As a driver's license restoration attorney, Joseph...


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