This article describes the Massachusetts Ignition Interlock Program and how the Registry of Motor Vehicles deals with alleged IID violations and infractions.
On January 1, 2006, the Massachusetts Legislature enacted G.L. c. 90 ? 24 1/2 , which is the Ignition Interlock portion of Melanie's Law. This requires all repeat DUI offenders to use an Ignition Interlock Device for at least two years. The Registry of Motor Vehicles is charged with the administration and enforcement of the state's Ignition Interlock Program and the Registry enacted and implemented 540 CMR 25, Regulations regarding the use and monitoring of Ignition Interlock Devices in Massachusetts.
Ignition Interlock Revocations
The Registry imposes 10-year license revocations for violations of the Massachusetts Ignition Interlock Device Regulations or G.L. c. 90 ? 24 1/2 , the RMV's interlock regulations. Violations can include missed monthly service and monitoring appointments, missing rolling re-tests, failing rolling re-tests, and initial start violations, where an ignition interlock device will not allow a vehicle to start because of alcohol readings which exceed .02. The legal limit for DUI in Massachusetts is .08. However, the limit for ignition interlock devices is much lower.
These lockout devices are not breathalyzers and they could never meet the stringent accuracy and reliability requirements which evidential breathalyzers must pass. They are susceptible to malfunctions and misreading certain substances for consumed alcohol. For example, mouthwash, toothpaste, cough medicine, breath spray, hand sanitizer, flavored coffee, spicy foods, certain baked goods, windshield washer fluid, antifreeze, aerosols, and a variety of other products have resulted in false positive alcohol readings. These readings have triggered failed initial start tests as well as failed rolling re-tests.
Ignition Interlock Penalties
Despite the limitations of these lockout devices, and their inability to be certified as evidential breath testing devices, the Registry has used IID readings to impose harsh 10-year license revocations and to extend a customer's required IID usage period. Tampering, circumvention, and unauthorized disconnection can also trigger license revocations. Fortunately, those who are facing interlock-related license revocations and program extensions have the right to be represented by a lawyer and effective legal representation can often make the difference between retaining your driver's license or having it revoked.
Preventing Interlock License Revocations
There are strategies that ignition interlock customers can use to prevent violations. IID users should avoid consuming anything but water while driving and for at least 15 minutes prior to attempting to start a vehicle. Also, testing with a handheld breath test device prior to attempting to use the IID can warn the user of the presence of alcohol or a possible contaminant.
In the event of a false positive alcohol reading, the user should completely document what occurred and promptly notify the IID service provider as well as the Registry of Motor Vehicles. Some customers get exculpatory breath tests and/or blood tests at police departments, emergency rooms, and urgent care facilities.
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