Using an Ignition Interlock Device in Michigan: Everything You Need to Know – If you have been required to use an ignition interlock device in Michigan in order to get your full driver’s license back, you probably have many questions. That’s understandable. Most drivers never have to use these devices, so you might not know how they work.

Even though they are slightly inconvenient, the important thing to keep in mind is that they exist to keep you and other drivers safer on the roads.

Another aspect to remember is that this is not optional. If a court requires you to use an IID, you have to do it. However, when you follow the rules, you are essentially saying that you are willing to work with the court to prove your sobriety, and that says something about your integrity.

man using ignition interlock device in MichiganAnswers to Common Questions about Using an Ignition Interlock Device in Michigan

Most clients who have to use an IID have similar reactions. Here are the most common questions I hear regarding the use of an ignition interlock device in Michigan.

  1. What is the purpose of the device and how does it work?

In Michigan, getting your license back may require the use of an ignition interlock device.  Approval of the request may require the use of an IID for a specific amount of time, typically a year. It is often recommended for people whose driving history is of concern, such as those who have multiple drunken driving offenses. 

An ignition interlock device is essentially a breath test that is connected to your ignition. You would be required to blow into the mouthpiece before driving anywhere. If your blood-alcohol level is acceptable, the car will start. If not, it won’t. In order for it to start, you will need to complete an acceptable test.

An IID also creates reports that can be used in court cases or driver’s license restoration hearings. Negative results will appear in reports with the Secretary of State or sobriety court.


  1. What are the limits?

Your blood-alcohol level must be lower than 0.025 for the vehicle to start. If it registers higher than that, you must test again within 15 minutes if you believe you can obtain a lower reading. The car will not start until you provide an acceptable sample. 

  1. Can’t I just get someone else to blow into the device in order to start my vehicle?

Someone thought of that before you. In fact, a lot of people probably thought of that before you. 

That’s why the IID includes what is referred to as a rolling retest. The device will ask you to take additional tests periodically as you’re driving in order to make sure the same person is behind the wheel. 

What’s more, a camera records who is giving the sample.

The rolling retests also keep a person from drinking while driving.

  1. How long do I have to use the ignition interlock device in Michigan?

The time period may vary from person to person, but typically drivers must use the device for at least one year before they can get their licenses back.

  1. What if I get caught violating the rules?

Don’t do that. That’s the first thing I would say.

If you do commit a serious violation, you risk completely losing your license all over again. Penalties for minor infractions include having three months of time added before you can try to get your full license back.


  1. I must drink a small amount of alcohol occasionally for religious purposes. What is the maximum amount of alcohol I can have if I have to use the interlock device?

In Michigan, a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 or higher is considered intoxicated. Generally, the car will start if your blood-alcohol level is lower than 0.025. That would allow for a sip of wine at church or consumption of foods that have a trace of alcohol in them. However, drinking any alcohol will violate the terms of most restricted licenses which require abstinence.  So you should not drink any alcohol at all even at religious ceremonies.

  1. What if someone else needs to drive my car?

That driver would have to breathe into the device just as you would in order to start the car, as well as take any rolling retests that are required.

  1. What happens if I drive someone else’s car?

If you routinely drive multiple vehicles, IIDs would need to be installed in all of them. 

Now, if you make an attempt to drive someone else’s car specifically to dodge the test, that would be a combination of driving on a suspended license and breaking the rules of this probationary period. Long story short, if you get caught trying to do that, you will get into a lot of trouble — making it even harder for you to get your license back.

  1. Will an ignition interlock device detect marijuana or other drugs?

An IID is made to detect alcohol. It cannot detect marijuana or other drugs. But there’s a catch: It can detect “smoke.” Essentially, if you smoke marijuana and blow into the IID, you will confuse the system. As a result, you may have to retake the test, or the vehicle might not start. If you do get locked out, that may result in penalties.

  1. Who will pay for all of this?

You will. The state works with several IID installation companies, and you would have to pay monthly rental fees for your ignition interlock device in Michigan. 

The bright side is that it’s only temporary, and afterward you should be able to get your freedom back in the form of a full driver’s license. Think of it as an investment into rebuilding your future.


What an IID Truly Means

Don’t think of an IID as punishment or a violation of your privacy. Think of it as a way to prove to the authorities and to yourself that you’re OK. You’re OK now, and you will be OK in the future. That’s what using an IID says, and it can also inspire you to regain your confidence. 

If you’re willing to follow these rules, it means you truly want to be a safer driver and are truly trying to make a change for the better.  And that’s the key to getting your driver’s license back.

Contact me if you want to know more about using an ignition interlock device in Michigan or if you want to take the next steps in order to have your license restored.

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