What Is a Tamper/ Circumvent Violation?

Michigan residents who have had their driver’s license revoked for OWI but reinstated are often required to install an Ignition Interlock device (technically known as a “BAIID” for Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device) in their vehicle.  These devices are notoriously fickle, in that many drivers encounter countless technical glitches with them.  One of the most common technical glitches is called a “tamper or circumvent,” which gets reported anytime the BAIID unit is disconnected or loses power. Tamper and circumvent violations arise from loss of battery power in your vehicle. This often happens unintentionally, from driving an older car, or from the cold Michigan winter. These violations can make a difficult process worse—if you’re struggling with your license reinstatement in Ann Arbor and need help, Michigan License Lawyer is here for you!

Unfortunately, these tamper and circumvent violations must get reported to the Michigan Secretary of State as a MAJOR violation.  If a driver commits a major violation (including a start-up failure; missed tests, etc.) he or she will typically suffer an AUTOMATIC reinstatement of license revocation or suspension, often indefinitely.  This reinstatement might only be set aside or modified when the driver files an appeal with the Secretary of State, where he or she will be required to testify and explain the violation. 

Attorney Daniel T. Geherin, author of The Michigan Drunk Driving and Driver’s License Restoration Handbook, is recognized as an expert on license reinstatement in Michigan. He’s handled driver’s license appeals for 20+ years, and has litigated hundreds of appeals regarding BAIID devices.  Every day, Dan gets calls from clients and other attorneys asking about Interlock devices and how/why a tamper or circumvent violation occurred.

Typical questions include:

“What is a tamper/circumvent?”

“How can I avoid a tamper/circumvent if my car battery dies?”

“Can I appeal my license reinstatement following a tamper/circumvent allegation?”

Some tamper violations are legitimate major issues. If you deliberately disable the device so you can drink and drive, there will be no relief available.  However, the majority of these violations occur when either (a) the battery dies or (b) when some mechanical work is being done on the car and the device is temporarily disabled.  If the violation is because of a mechanical issue, it’s justifiable and shouldn’t result in your license being revoked again. 

Some interlock companies are better than others at explaining how to avoid a tamper/circumvent violation.  Some will even help drivers send in documentation proving an innocent explanation before a reinstatement occurs.  Other companies will leave the fight up to the driver.  As a general rule, if your vehicle battery dies or if mechanical work is needed, you must document the problem (i.e., collect receipts, take pictures, preserve texts/phone calls, etc.) and ask the interlock company and/or SOS for permission to disable/replace the device. This is often the only way to potentially avoid or appeal a major violation for tamper/circumvent.  If a reinstatement occurs, you have a short timeframe (usually 14 days from the reinstatement date) to request an appeal at the Secretary of State.  If that appeal is denied, you can file a legal appeal in your County of Residence Circuit Court. 

If you’ve received a Major Violation notice, please call us immediately. The process of license reinstatement in Michigan is difficult, you should have an attorney on your side! If you have any other questions or concerns about your BAIID device and any claimed violations, call Dan and his team. We’re available 24/7, we know everything there is to know about BAIID Ignition Interlock devices, and we’ll fight zealously to protect or restore your license.  For more information, contact us or call 24/7 at (734) 263-2780. 


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Geherin Law Group, PLLC, represents out-of-state residents seeking removal of a Michigan license hold, as well as clients who live anywhere throughout the State of Michigan, including those in Ann Arbor, Adrian, Berkley, Battle Creek, Bay City, Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills, Brighton, Cadillac, Canton, Carleton, Chelsea, Dearborn, Dearborn Heights, Dexter, Detroit, Dundee, East Lansing, Ferndale, Farmington Hills, Flint, Garden City, Grand Rapids, Grosse Pointe, Hartland, Howell, Huntington Woods, Jackson, Livonia, Lansing, Kalamazoo, Livonia, Marquette, Milan, Monroe, Muskegon, Northville, Novi, Plymouth, Pontiac, Portage, Port Huron, Rockford, Rochester Hills, Royal Oak, Saline, Saginaw, Southfield, St. Clair Shores, Sterling Heights, Taylor, Tecumseh, Traverse City, Troy, Warren, Waterford, Westland, and Ypsilanti.

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