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.