Ignition Interlock Devices are not accurate and reliable breath testing devices. They are lockout devices and they’re not “breathalyzers.” These videos show conclusively that these devices cannot be relied upon to produce accurate Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) readings. This client of mine has an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) installed in two vehicles, a Toyota (car) and a Ford (pick up truck). You will see in these videos that he experiences a failed start-up test in his car, with a BAC reading of .028. He then immediately takes a breath test with the IID installed in his truck and he passes with a reading of 0.00. To quote the testimony of the renowned forensic scientist, Dr. Henry C. Lee, “Only opinion I can give under these circumstances: Something wrong.”
Yes. Something is very wrong. This client was fortunate enough to have two Ignition Interlock Devices, so he could immediately perform a comparison test. Unfortunately, given the expense associated with the interlock devices and the requirement for monthly service visits, not everyone has that ability.
This is not the first time that an ignition interlock device has proven to be inaccurate. I have had numerous clients immediately go to a police station for a comparison breath test which showed 0.00 after their IID showed alcohol readings. These comparison breath tests can be invaluable at RMV Ignition Interlock Violation Hearings and they have saved countless Massachusetts interlock users from 10-year IVO license suspensions.
I have had clients with years of sobriety experience failed starts and failed rolling re-tests. These people had not consumed alcohol in years, but their interlock devices said otherwise. This places the client in the untenable position of having to defend himself or herself against readings that many people mistakenly believe are scientifically reliable. The usual penalty in Massachusetts for an ignition interlock violation is a 10-year license suspension. Unfortunately, for the interlock user, the stakes are very high and the technology is unreliable and often misunderstood by the decision-makers.
If you experience false IID readings, you should immediately contact your Ignition Interlock Service Provider and the Registry of Motor Vehicles. You can reach the Registry’s Interlock Department at 857-368-7180. You should leave a voicemail message explaining exactly what happened. Also, you should immediately go to the nearest police station and request a comparison breath test. It is important to accurately document all of the facts and circumstances at the time of the ignition interlock violation. This documentation can be very valuable at your Ignition Interlock Violation Hearing. The RMV Hearing Officer will want to know exactly what happened and the Registry usually conducts these violation hearings months after the IID violation.
Please contact me if you have any questions or if you have been accused of an ignition interlock violation. Taking the right steps at the outset may save your license from a 10-year IVO suspension.
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