Michigan Ignition Interlock Devices: Everything You Want to Know

Driver using ignition interlock device


Have you been convicted of a DUI crime in Michigan? Are you ready to get your life back now that you’ve paid your penalties and you are committed to never drinking again? You are probably prepared to apply to receive your driver’s license back if your period of eligibility has started. One of the first things you will learn is your car will have to be fitted with an ignition interlock device. If you aren’t familiar with one of these devices, it’s best to know what to expect.

Why Do You Need a Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device (BAIID)?

The state of Michigan treats subsequent DUI offenders very differently from first time DUI offenders. If you’ve gotten at least two DUIs in 7 years, the state assumes you have a drinking problem.

At this point, it doesn’t matter what you say. The facts are the facts, and Michigan is serious about keeping drunk drivers off roads. If you’re at the point of receiving a breath alcohol ignition interlock device (BAIID) to start driving again, you already know this. 

Anyone convicted of two or more DUIs within 7 years will have their license revoked for at least 1 year. You are eligible to apply for driver’s license reinstatement after that time. If you win, you will be awarded a restricted license.

Restrictions can be for the times you are allowed to drive or be for the places you are allowed to drive to and from. You will be ordered to have a BAIID installed regardless of which type of restricted license you win. 

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

The ignition interlock device acts like a breathalyzer for your car, and it keeps your vehicle from starting if it detects alcohol in your breath. It’s a small instrument installed on your dashboard. You have to blow a breath sample to start your car every time. 

However, there’s more. Not only do you have to blow to start your car, but you will also be asked for random samples as you drive. This prevents you from having someone else blow a sample to get your vehicle started.

If you blow a positive sample after the engine is running, the device triggers a warning and an alarm, and it logs the event. Your lights will flash, and your horn will sound until you give a clean breath sample or stop your engine.

Who Installs the Device?

Here’s a piece of news that might be unwelcome. You, the driver, are responsible for having the ignition interlock device installed and for all fees associated with it.

The Secretary of State publishes a list of providers authorized in Michigan to install the devices. The initial installation fee can be up to $200, and the monthly rental fee can be up to $100. You are required to use the device for a year. 

Tamper-proof Device

The state of Michigan is wise to almost any work-around a driver might try to pull against these devices. In case you’re somehow at this point still thinking you can drink again, there are a few realities to keep in mind.

You might be able to fool some people around you or even your lawyer. However, the device will know. 

BAIIDs are tamper-proof. They are designed to detect tampering or attempted removal, and they will sound an alarm and log the event.

BAIIDs are so sensitive. They can log a positive reading because of the presence of other things such as:

  • Gasoline
  • Windshield washer fluid
  • Products that contain alcohol, like nail polish remover or harsh cleaners
  • Paint solvents
  • Energy drinks on your breath
  • After you’ve eaten pizza or eaten vanilla

A good rule of thumb is that if you can smell gasoline in your car, the device can detect it, and it will read as a false positive. Be extra careful of what you eat or drink before blowing into the device and attempting to start up your car.

What Happens After a False Positive?

Any positives, true or false, will be logged and recorded when you take your device in for routine maintenance. All major violations will be reported to the Driver’s License Appeal Division office, so it’s best to make sure there are no surprises.

Any time you get a false positive or an error message, call the BAIID installer right away. You need to contact your lawyer as well, to make sure you have excellent documentation for every single instance of an issue with the device or a false positive reading, as well as letters and receipts from witnesses who will vouch for your innocence.

Here’s what counts as a major violation:

  • Missed “rolling” retests
  • Positive rolling retests
  • Device tampering
  • Three failed start attempts with a BAC above .025g/100l of breath.

After a major violation, your restricted driver’s license will be revoked until you can go before a hearing officer to explain what happened. Additionally, this can take up to 8 weeks to be scheduled. 


The best thing you can do for yourself as you live life with an ignition interlock device is to maintain your commitment to never drinking again. Apart from that, be very careful about accidentally setting off the device.

Above all, hire an experienced attorney to guide you through any problems that may arise, to make sure you have all the proof you need of your innocence and your commitment to staying sober. Call my office today for your free initial consultation. 

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