As a law firm that focuses on DWI and DMV cases, we often get questions from clients about blowing violations on ignition interlock devices. Below is a question we received from a client who blew a violation on Smart Start.

What should I do if I received a non-compliance letter from the NCDMV because I had a DWI or an alcohol violation?

I blew a FAIL when I tried to start my car in the morning. I had taken cough medicine in the middle of the night because I was sick. I guess it was still lingering in my system. I have had no other violations over the last year. My restrictions are a .000 over 3 years. I have a Smart Start device in my car. I am halfway through my time.

I am very scared that I might get my license revoked for a year and I can’t have that happen. One person told me not to worry and that I don’t need an attorney. I’m not sure what to do but I need to make sure that I don’t get my license suspended. I need this dropped.

ignition interlock violation question - blew a violation on smart start

Ignition Interlock Violations

After an ignition interlock violation, you will get a letter from the NC Division of Motor Vehicles telling you to surrender your Driver’s License. Whether you are using a Smart Start or Monitech interlock device they are both required to send your results electronically to the DMV if there is any violation of the alcohol limit restriction. If you do nothing, you will lose your privilege to drive for a year or longer.

This generated letter means that at some time in the past the DMV has received a notice from the Interlock provider of a violation. It does not necessarily mean that it occurred at the most recent electronic download. Many times the DMV will send out notices 6 months or more after the alleged violation.

At Dummit Fradin we see these types of alleged violations quite frequently. We offer a free and confidential consultation to those who have received a letter such as this. But you must act swiftly to protect your rights if you have received a “positive” Monitech or Smart Start test.

Do I Need an Attorney for an Interlock Violation Hearing?

If you blew a violation on a Smart Start or Monitech interlock device, we highly recommend that you seek an attorney experienced in interlock violations.

The rules and law involved in these hearings are administrative law and are unique to the DMV. The DMV is exempt from the administrative code (which every other agency must follow) and is allowed to make their own rules up for hearings they conduct. You need an attorney who has handled multiple hearings on this exact issue.

Ignition Interlock Devices are Prone to False Positives

The interlock device is and was designed as a safety device (to stop a vehicle from starting if it thinks it detects alcohol. The device is not a forensic instrument to conduct admissible breath testing samples. It is not designed to have any calibration or slope detector which are required under North Carolina General Statute 20-16.2. It would not be admissible in a court of law, but the DMV is not bound by scientific evidentiary standards.

As you have already experienced, the device regularly gives false positives. Even during the training you received you were warned to keep a bottle of water in your vehicle to clear your mouth before blowing. There are too many interferents which show up on this device as “positive for alcohol” so it gives false positives.

Interlock Violation Hearing Procedures

While the DMV does not publish the hearing procedures which they follow for these interlock violation hearings, at Dummit Fradin we have fought many of these cases and learned many of the procedures the DMV wishes to keep secret. These are in fact two different kinds of interlock hearings depending upon the underlying reason you are required to have an Interlock device. The rules are different for each of these, and the evidence which can show a violation changes. Again, we urge you to seek an experienced interlock violation attorney.

Contact an Attorney with Experience in Interlock Violations

If you also blew a violation on Smart Start, contact Dummit Fradin to speak with an attorney about your defense options. We have offices conveniently located throughout the NC Piedmont Triad. Visit us in Winston-Salem, Greensboro, and High Point.