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Problems with Ignition Interlock Devices


It is a known fact that ignition interlock devices produce false positive readings. These false readings unjustly prevent the driver from operating the vehicle, and can result in extremely harsh consequences. False positives have occurred due to baked goods, protein bars containing sugar alcohol, cinnamon, mouthwash, and cigarette smoke. These substances may appear as alcohol to some interlock devices.

To prevent circumvention, some ignition interlock devices require the driver to hum and blow at the same time the sample is given; some drivers have difficulty doing this. Failing to provide a breath sample when requested can result in a interlock violation.

Once an interlock device is installed a vehicle, all of the other household members who drive that vehicle will have to contend with using the interlock.

Interlock violations can result in a ten (10) year or lifetime license revocation. This is obviously a very serious consequence, often imposed based on unreliable alcohol results.

Massachusetts Registry Lawyers have successfully attacked the interlock device. We have successfully challenged the interlock device at both the Registry and Board of Appeal level.  Contact us to find out more. Download the Massachusetts Ignition Interlock Law and the Ignition Interlock Device brochure for more information.

One Ignition Interlock service provider stated that vapors from windshield washer fluid can be sucked into the passenger compartment by the vehicle’s defroster. The driver inhales these vapors and breathes into the interlock device. Due to its inherent unreliability, the interlock device will register alcohol in the breath sample. This can trigger a 10 year or even lifetime license loss!

Another interlock company instructed a user to bang the ignition interlock device 5 times in the case of a rejected breath sample or an “abort.” So much for the interlock being a scientific instrument!

“There are several basic scientific methods used to design breath analyzers: infrared spectroscopy, chemical oxidation, gas chromatography, semiconductor sensing, and fuel cell devices. Designing these machines for low production costs entails taking engineering shortcuts; these may destroy the scientific acceptability of the principle used and create unforeseen problems, which the manufacturer may try to ignore in order to keep costs competitive.” Also, “Tobacco smoke, or some constituents of tobacco smoke, increase the proportion of false positives detected by semiconductor type alcohol measuring devices.”

Attorney Brian Simoneau has extensive experience, and a track record of success, defending clients who are facing 10 year or lifetime suspensions due to ignition interlock violations. He knows the interlock law inside and out. There are powerful legal and scientific defenses available to counter the interlock device. If you are charged with an interlock violation, you will have a hearing at the Registry of Motor Vehicles in Boston. Do not make the mistake of attempting to represent yourself or hiring a lawyer who is not familiar with interlock; this could cost you your license for 10 years or for life. With these harsh penalties, interlock violations should be taken seriously.

Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Devices are not breathalyzers. Instead of using infrared spectrometry, which is required pursuant to G.L. c. 90 § 24K for breath test results to be admitted in Massachusetts DUI cases, ignition interlock devices use fuel cell technology to determine blood alcohol content. These devices were never certified or intended to precisely measure blood alcohol content for evidentiary purposes. Instead, they are designed as lockout devices which will lockout the ignition of a vehicle if alcohol is detected on the driver’s breath. Nevertheless, the Registry of Motor Vehicles imposes 10 year or lifetime license revocations based on IID readings.

MassDOT requires ignition interlock devices for all second or subsequent DUI offenders who are reinstating on or after January 1, 2006.

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