Tether and Electronic Monitoring Devices


Michigan Criminal Defense Attorney

As a condition of bail, bond, sentencing, or probation, the judge may order you to wear an electronic monitoring device, or tether. An electronic monitoring device allows pretrial services, probation, or parole the chance to closely supervise you by keeping track of where you are at or in some cases, determine if you are consuming alcohol. There are several types of electronic monitoring devices that are commonly used. Tethers are bracelets that are attached to the ankle while breathalyzers can be portable or attached to your car.

Global Positioning System (GPS) Tether

This monitors the defendant’s movement by satellite and reports his movements and whereabouts to the supervising agency. Exclusion Zones or Hot Zones (places where the defendant is not supposed to be) are programmed into a computer program that runs in conjunction with the GPS tether and alerts the supervising agency if the defendant goes someplace that he is not supposed to go such as the home or workplace of an alleged victim. The GPS tether could also be programmed so that the defendant is only allowed to be in or traveling to and from certain places such as work, home, or court. It could also be programmed to alert the supervising agency if defendant leaves beyond a certain radius.

Transdermal Alcohol Tether

This type of tether monitors (usually SCRAM tethers) the defendant’s skin to determine if any alcohol has been ingested into the body. While it is designed to monitor any alcohol from alcoholic drinks or alcohol-based products (mouthwashes, cough syrups, etc.) that the defendant may be ingesting, they are not designed to detect only ethyl alcohol (the type contained in alcoholic beverages). They will detect only forms of alcohol that can come from anything ranging from certain foods, hand lotions, body washes, or cleaning products. It also alerts the agency if the defendant has tried circumventing the tether in any way or tampering with it.

Standard Tether

This device records and reports when a defendant enters and exits certain locations, such as his residence. This ankle bracelet needs a landline phone in order to properly work.


Breathalyzers are either portable devices or installed to a fixed setting like a car or home. The court may require a defendant to submit to a preliminary breath test (PBT) at regular times (everyday by a certain time, each time defendant enters or leaves the residence), or when certain events occur (e.g. driving a car). These units are often equipped with cameras to verify that it is actually the defendant providing the breath sample. Breathalzyers are often ordered by the court for substance-related offenses such as DUIs, driver’s license restorations, any offense involving alcohol, or if the defendant has a history of alcohol abuse.

Ignition Interlock Devices

An ignition interlock device is a breathalyzer that is specifically designed for installation in cars to prevent defendants from operating the car until they prove they have not been drinking. They require a significant breath sample that requires the defendant to blow and hum at the same time. A breath sample of approximately 1.5 ml of breath is normally required before the car will start. The ignition interlock device also requires you to submit to “rolling tests” meaning you have to give a breath sample at spontaneous times while the car is in motion to determine you haven’t been drinking since you started the car. The slightest thing can cause them to malfunction. These are frequently required for driver’s license restorations, High BAC (Superdrunk) charges, subsequent OWI offenses (OWI 2nd, OWI 3rd) and felony DUIs (OWI 3rd, OWI Causing Injury or Death).

Lansing Michigan Criminal Defense Attorney

Tethers, breathalzyers, and ignition interlock devices as a bond or probation condition can be costly in terms of money (rental and maintenance costs) as well as convenience. It also creates another possibility for a violation if anything goes wrong. A violation could get your bond or probation revoked and land you back in jail for a long time. If you have been charged with a tether or ignition interlock violation or if you are required to have a tether as a bond condition, you need to have an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side to defend against the violation or convince the judge the requirement is too costly, burdensome, or unnecessary.

If you are facing misdemeanor or felony criminal charges call Austin Legal Services, PLC today at (517) 614-1983 for a free, no obligation consultation!

Defending misdemeanor and felony criminal charges throughout Michigan in the counties of Ingham, Eaton, Livingston, Jackson, Clinton, Gratiot, Calhoun, Kent, Kalamazoo in the cities of Lansing, East Lansing, Mason, Brighton, Howell, Jackson, St. Johns, Ithaca, Battle Creek, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Jackson, Charlotte, Corunna.

Ignition Interlock Violations

Ignition Interlock 3

Lansing Michigan Driver’s License Restoration and Appeals Lawyer

If you are fortunate enough to prevail at your hearing with the Driver’s Assessment and Appeals Division (DAAD) officer at the Secretary of State on your petition to have your driver’s license reinstated, you will be issued a restricted driver’s license or a driver’s license equipped with an ignition interlock device. After a year you can petition the DAAD to have your full driver’s license reinstated. You will again go through the process with the hearing, assessment, letters of community support, 10-panel drug screen, etc. The only difference is that you will have to submit a report of your ignition interlock device. If there are violations with your ignition interlock device, that can spell big trouble for your petition. It could be denied and you could even lose your driver’s license forever.

Upon receiving notice form the ignition interlock device company, the DAAD revokes your driver’s license. Actually, it is a “reinstatement of the original action” meaning your previous status of license revocation. You have 14 days from the effective date to request a hearing to challenge the violation.

The Four Most Common Violations

  1. Tamper/Circumvent—This is when a power disconnect or power failure occurs to the vehicle. It most often happens when mechanical work is done on the car or when a battery is switched out or disconnected, even momentarily. You should call the ignition interlock company before the work is done and ask what to do. Even still, a violation may occur anyway.
  2. Initial Starting Failure—This is just what it sounds like—a violation that occurs when you attempt or initially start the vehicle. These “false positives” can be caused by foods containing yeast or something like mouthwash. The Secretary of State presumes everyone has been given information by the company on how to do a proper retest after an initial positive test within a few minutes. Frequently, the driver is just given a booklet instead of a complete “walk through” when installed. Hardly anyone bothers to plan for the “false positives.”
  3. Skipped Rolling Retest—This is when the driver skips or misses performing a rolling retest. Periodically the device will require you blow or test after the car has been placed in motion. You may need to pull off on the side of the road. If you do not perform this rolling retest, it is a violation.
  4. Rolling Retest Failure—Just what it sounds like. If you are driving and the device requires a retest, a failure can be caused by eating while driving. Food products containing yeast is the biggest culprit.

If you have an ignition interlock device and are accused of a violation, you are facing serious consequences, including permanent license revocation. There is no magic phone number you can call to immediately straighten things out. Also, it isn’t simply a matter of showing up for a hearing to explain yourself and clear everything up. You will need real hard evidence—testimony and letters to recreate what happened, to convince the hearing officer.

Some hearing officers are more versed in the science of the ignition interlock devices than others. Other hearing officers rely more on circumstantial evidence. If you have been accused of an ignition interlock device, you need to be represented by a lawyer experienced in handling driver’s license restorations and ignition interlock violation hearings. The stakes are too high to try it alone. If you have a pending ignition interlock violation, contact Austin Legal Services, PLC to speak to a Michigan Driver’s License Reinstatement Attorney today!

Representing clients in driver’s license appeals and restoration hearings and ignition interlock violation hearings through Michigan in the counties of Ingham, Eaton, Clinton, Jackson, Gratiot, Shiawassee, Barry, Livingston, Washtenaw, Kent in the cites of Lansing, St. Johns, Charlotte, Jackson, Howell, Ithaca, Hastings, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids, Corunna.

Ignition Interlock Devices

Ignition Interlock 2

Lansing Michigan Driver’s License Restoration Attorney

In Michigan, if you have been convicted of certain drunk driving offenses you may be required to install a breath alcohol ignition interlock device (BAIID) in your car. The judge has discretion to order an ignition interlock with a first offense OWI, although few rarely exercise that discretion. Some judges will require it with a second or third offense OWI. It is mandatory if convicted of a High BAC or Superdrunk if you want to get a restricted license. If you apply to have your driver’s license reinstated with the Driver’s Appeals and Assessment Division (DAAD) through the Secretary of State, they will require you to have an ignition interlock device if your petition is successful. You will have to drive with the ignition interlock for a year before applying for full reinstatement.

The prices for the BAIID vary depending on the company you choose. Prices for the initial installation run anywhere from $100-200 and the monthly rental fees vary from $50-100.

The BAIID and the Blow-Hum Technique

The ignition interlock device is a machine used to determine your breath alcohol content (BAC) before your car will start. Typically it is installed into the dashboard. It is similar to a portable Breathalyzer or PBT. If your BAC is over a pre-set amount, the car will not start. The BAIID are also designed to prevent tampering. The driver will have to blow into the device using the blow-hum technique. It’s just like it sounds—you blow and hum at the same time to get the device to work. This method is to prevent using an air mechanism to fool the machine. Most BAIID take about one-and-a-half milliliters of breath to start the device which usually takes around two to three seconds. To get the blow-hum technique down try practicing by blowing the word “who” with a humming sound.

Rolling Test

Once you start your car and it is in motion, you will periodically have to blow into the device at some point in order to keep the car going. This is to ensure that you haven’t consumed alcohol since your initial test and to make sure you just didn’t simply have a friend blow into the device for the initial start. If you fail or miss the rolling stop, the horn will start honking and the lights will start flashing until you turn the car off. It can be quite dangerous to perform the rolling test while the car is in motion. The safest way is to pull off to the side of the road and do the rolling test.

Every breath test is recorded. You are required to take the device in for routine maintenance. Failing or missing a breath test means the company will report it to your probation officer or the Secretary of State. If that happens, you face an ignition interlock violation and the SOS can reinstate your previous license revocation. You have to act quickly if that occurs because you only have 14 days to contest the violation and request a hearing.

If you are applying for a full license reinstatement you have to go through the same process as your initial driver’s license restoration petition but you have to add your ignition interlock report.

If you are facing an ignition interlock violation or are applying to have your driver’s license restored or reinstated, we can help get you back on the road. Contact Austin Legal Services, PLC today at (517) 614-1983 to speak to a Michigan driver’s license appeals and restoration attorney.

Representing clients in driver’s license appeals and restorations and ignition interlock violations throughout Michigan in the counties of Ingham, Eaton, Livingston, Jackson, Washtenaw, Clinton, Gratiot, Barry, Shiawassee, Calhoun, Kalamazoo, Kent and in the cities of Lansing, Charlotte, Howell, Jackson, Ann Arbor, St. Johns, Ithaca, Hastings, Corunna, Durand, Battle Creek, Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids.