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Guide Ignition Interlock Device Program

In 2005, “Melanie’s Law” came into effect which increased the penalties for operating a motor vehicle under the influence (OUI) of alcohol or controlled substances. It also established the Interlock Ignition Device (IID) program, which requires multiple OUI offenders to install an IID for a prescribed period of time.

Table of Contents

Ignition Interlock Device (IID) Program

On October 28, 2005, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts passed legislation known as “Melanie’s Law” increasing the penalties for operating a motor vehicle Under the Influence (OUI) of Alcohol or Controlled Substances.  This change helped to usher in new and enhanced periods of license suspension or revocation and further established the Commonwealth’s Ignition Interlock Device (IID) Program.  The IID program requires multiple and certain first-time OUI offenders to install an IID in their vehicle for a prescribed period of time.  The IID program is managed by the Driver Control Unit of the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV).  Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 90, §§ 24, 24D, and 24 ½, and 540 CMR 25.00 define the rules and regulations that govern the IID program.

Further, as a result of Chapter 227 of the Acts of 2020, Sections 35-36, effective July 1, 2021, certain OUI first offenders seeking a hardship license will be required to have an IID installed into a vehicle as a condition of that hardship.

As most recently amended in 2020, Melanie’s Law requires that an IID be installed and used by both drivers with a conditional “hardship” driver’s license and by those operators whose driver’s licenses are eligible for reinstatement following completion of the OUI license suspension or revocation periods.  Any operator meeting the requirements for hardship on the OUI offense will be issued a conditional twelve hour/day hardship license with the Hardship and Interlock (“HT”) license restriction.  Any operators seeking reinstatement after completion of the OUI license suspension or revocation periods will receive a driver’s license with the Interlock (“T”) license restriction.  The “HT” and “T” license restrictions assist law enforcement officials in identifying operators with an IID.  The IID must remain installed throughout the operator’s conditional hardship license period plus, for multiple-OUI offenders, an additional two years after reinstatement of full operating privileges.

The IID regulations found at 540 CMR 25.00 were created to establish guidelines for the certification, installation, use, and maintenance of the IID.  The RMV certifies interlock service providers to offer installation, maintenance, and monitoring of the IID at convenient locations throughout the commonwealth.

Operator Requirements

An IID is a handheld breath-alcohol monitoring device (approximately the size of a cell phone) that is electronically connected to a vehicle's ignition. You are required to pass an IID Breath-Alcohol test before starting your vehicle. The IID also requires you to provide breath-alcohol re-tests while you are operating the vehicle.

The IID program requires multiple offenders who have accumulated two or more convictions for OUI (Alcohol or Controlled Substances) to have the IID installed in their vehicle. Further, the RMV will honor court orders requesting that an operator install the IID for the full length of that court order. Finally, certain first time OUI offenders seeking a hardship license, who took a breathalyzer at the time of arrest with results of .15 or greater will be required to have an IID installed as a condition of that hardship license.

The minimum period for an IID restriction for multiple OUI offenders is two years. If the IID is issued on a conditional hardship license, the IID is required for the length of that OUI license suspension or revocation period plus two years after reinstatement of full operating privileges, except in the case of first offenders, who are only required to have the IID through the length of the hardship.

The IID license restriction is not automatically removed at the conclusion of the IID license restriction period. All operators must apply to see a hearings officer to have the IID removed from their vehicle and the license restriction lifted.

Operator Responsibilities

Operators are responsible for the installation, maintenance, proper usage and payment of all associated IID fees.

  • Installation – You must contact a vendor/service provider and schedule an IID installation.
  • Maintenance Visits – You must return to the service provider once every 25-30 days from the last service visit for scheduled maintenance and data uploads.
  • Proper Usage – You must follow all of the rules and guidelines you are given for using the IID and must never tamper with or try to circumvent the use of the IID.
  • Payment – You must pay the vendor/service provider all of the required leasing and maintenance fees, unless you have been approved for waiver of certain costs under the RMVs Indigency Program.

Operators subject to an Ignition Interlock license restriction must pay a $30 monthly program administration fee pursuant to the provisions of 801 CMR 4.02. This fee shall be collected by the IID Vendor on behalf of the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) at your initial service visit (not installation) and each subsequent service visitThis fee is applicable unless you have been approved for waiver of certain costs under the RMV’s Indigency Program.

Additional Resources for Ignition Interlock Device (IID) Program

Getting Started

First, visit an RMV Service Center and speak with a RMV Hearings Officer.  The RMV Hearings Officer will explain the criteria for a conditional hardship license or for full reinstatement.  DO NOT have an IID installed in your vehicle before you have received approval for the IID from a RMV Hearings Officer.

Once you have been approved for a conditional hardship license or for full reinstatement, the RMV Hearings Officer will provide you with a list of approved vendors/service providers along with legal documents (affidavits) that must be completed, signed, and returned to an RMV Hearings Officer.  By signing these affidavits, you certify that you understand, as well as each licensed driver in your household understands, that you are not allowed to drive any vehicle without an IID and that you cannot try to bypass the IID in any way.  The penalties for these actions are included in the affidavits(s).

You must then return to an RMV Hearings Officer with the completed affidavits. An “HT” or “T” license restriction will be added to your driver’s license. The “HT” or “T” license restriction means that you are only allowed to operate a motor vehicle equipped with an IID.  

If you transfer your vehicle’s registration to a newly acquired vehicle, or obtain a new registration for an additional vehicle, you must follow the steps for IID installation. You must first seek approval from an RMV Hearings Officer to remove, transfer or add an IID to a vehicle.

You must then call an approved IID vendor/service provider to schedule an appointment for IID installation.  DO NOT plan to drive yourself to the appointment – there are NO EXCEPTIONS to your requirement to drive a vehicle with an IID.  When you go to your appointment, you must bring proof of your identity.  The service provider will install the IID in your vehicle and give you detailed instructions on how to use and maintain the device. Throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, there are several approved vendors that offer installation and maintenance of the IID at convenient service provider locations. . See the Vendors/Service Providers Listing below.

If you do not have an IID installed in your vehicle(s) first, you will not be eligible to have your license reinstated or to schedule a permit or road test examination.  You must have an IID installed in every vehicle that you own, lease or operate (including your employer’s vehicle), no exceptions are made to this requirement.

If you have not held a license or have been serving a license suspension for greater than two years without conditional hardship license relief or full reinstatement of operating privileges, you are required to pass a learner’s permit exam.  You are also required to take a road test in a vehicle equipped with an IID

To schedule a road-test, contact the RMV’s Contact Center at 1-857-368-8000.  A “Special” IID road-test is required when the IID vehicle is not equipped with an emergency brake in the center console area of the front seat, or if the vehicle does not provide a seat for the sponsor. A Special IID road-test is taken with a road test supervisor and must be scheduled by speaking with an RMV customer service representative.

Additional Resources for Getting Started

IID Usage Requirements

Once the IID is installed in your vehicle, you will receive instructions and training from your service provider on how to operate the device. The following steps need to be taken to correctly use the device:

  1. Turn on the vehicle’s ignition and wait for the IID to display instructions indicating you need to take an initial breath-alcohol test.
  2. Blow into the IID until you have provided an acceptable breath-alcohol test sample. If you pass the initial breath-alcohol test, the IID will allow you to start your vehicle.

If you fail the initial breath-alcohol test (Blood Alcohol Concentration "BAC" greater than .02%), you will not be able to start your vehicle. You will need to wait for your BAC to decrease before you take another breath-alcohol test.

If you fail a second time within a service period, your vehicle will go into lockout and you will need to visit your service provider within 48 hours to continue operation of the vehicle. A service period is the 1-30 day period following the last IID calibration or service visit.

After the vehicle has started, you will be required to take rolling re-tests at random intervals while operating the vehicle. When it is time to take a rolling re-test, the IID will beep, alerting the operator that they have five minutes to take the breath-alcohol re-test.

You may take the rolling re-tests while driving, but it is recommended that, if it is safe to do so, you pull your vehicle over to the side of the road and take the breath-alcohol re-tests. If you do not take the rolling re-test, or if you turn the ignition off before taking the rolling re-test, this will be considered a missed test.

The IID will never shut your engine off after it has been started.

Inspection and Maintenance of IID

An operator must bring his/her vehicle to the IID service provider once every 25 – 30 days for as long as the operator is subject to the IID license restriction.  At these service visits, the IID will be inspected for mechanical and functional defaults.  In addition, the IID vendor/service provider will examine the IID device for tampering, a violation of the Interlock program.  If an operator brings their vehicle in for a Service Visit on the 31st day or later, this is considered a Missed Service Visit and the vehicle will go into lockout.      If an operator has Two (2) Missed Service Visits during the duration of their Interlock Program Requirement, the operator’s right to operate will be suspended for Ten (10) years.

At each monthly service visit, an administrative fee is also collected to help cover the RMV’s cost of running the IID program. The fee is $30.00 per IID program participant and begins upon the issuance of the interlock restricted drivers permit or license, unless the driver has been approved for waiver of certain costs under the RMV’s IID Indigency Program.

Operators in the IID program must immediately notify the RMV’s Ignition Interlock Department (857-368-7180) with their change of address or to report a non-operational vehicle.  Further, operators are required to get approval from an RMV Hearings Officer before transferring any IID between vehicles or transferring to a new IID vendor.  Notification to the RMV is also required, but not limited to the following circumstances:

  • Change of IID vendor/service provider
  • Transfer of an IID to a new vehicle
  • Adding an IID to a second vehicle
  • Filing of additional licensed driver affidavits

Vehicle Lockout

A Lockout occurs when one of the following events happen:

Two (2) failed start-up tests within one service period

One (1) failed rolling re-test

Two (2) missed rolling re-tests within one service period

One (1) missed service visit

If the IID in your vehicle goes into lockout, an infraction of the IID has been recorded.  You have 48 hours to return to the IID service provider for inspection.  If you do not return to the IID service provider within this time period, the IID will enter permanent lockout.  Your vehicle will not be operational and must be towed, at your expense, to the interlock service provider to be unlocked.  Lockouts for One Missed Service Visits Occur after the 30th day from the previous service visit, and are immediate.  You must have the vehicle towed to the service provider in order to resolve a lockout for a One Missed Service Visit.

If you believe that a lockout is unjustified, you may request a hearing with the RMV within 30 days of the lockout.  If the RMV finds the lockout was not justified, the lockout shall be excused.  If an operator does not contest their lockout within 30 days, the operator may not contest their lockout at a later time.

Additional Resources for IID Usage Requirements

IID Program Violations

An IID violation consists of any of the following:

 

An IID violation consists of any of the following:

  1. Operating a motor vehicle without an IID.
  2. Soliciting or allowing any other person to blow into an IID in an attempt to either start an IID equipped vehicle or during a rolling re-test in an IID equipped vehicle.
  3. Using any other means other than blowing a breath directly from your mouth into an IID.
  4. Any attempt to tamper with or circumvent an IID.
  5. A failed rolling re-test in which your BAC registered at or above .05 over the entire life of your IID obligation.
  6. Two failed rolling re-tests within one service period in which your BAC registered between .02 and .05.
  7. Two lockouts due to missed rolling re-tests over the entire life of your IID obligation.
  8. Two missed service visits over the entire life of your IID obligation.
  9. Two lockouts due to failed start-up tests over the entire life of your IID obligation.

Upon notification of the IID violation(s), the RMV will schedule a hearing to address the IID violation(s). If you are found responsible for the IID violation(s), you may face additional license suspension, up to and including a lifetime license loss.  The RMV also has the right to take immediate action pursuant to Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 90, Section 22, as warranted by the need to protect public safety.

If the IID program violation is related to a mechanical issue, you should contact your IID vendor/service provider for documentation ahead of your hearing.  You may also contest lockouts before an RMV Hearings Officer within 30 days of a lockout if you believe the lockout is not justified.

Out-of-State Policies

All multiple OUI offenders with a Massachusetts Interlock obligation that live out-of-state will need to complete the two (2) year IID program and associated requisites in order to be eligible to reinstate the right to operate in Massachusetts.

Massachusetts interlock restricted operators who live outside the state must either enroll in the Massachusetts Interlock program or submit an out-of-state resident affidavit(s). The Out-Of-State Affidavit affirms that you will not operate any vehicle unless it is equipped with a functioning Ignition Interlock Device.

Out-of-State Operation

All operators who are licensed in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and who are required to have an IID to operate a vehicle must continue to use an IID equipped vehicle when travelling out-of-state. Failure to use an IID and meet all IID requirements will result in the immediate suspension or revocation of your driver’s license.

Out-of-State Program Credit

An operator can receive program credit for time in which they maintain an IID in their vehicle while residing in another jurisdiction. You must be enrolled in the Massachusetts Interlock Program and meet all program requirements.  You must use an IID vendor/service provider that conducts business in Massachusetts and the state where you reside, and the IID must be set to the same standards as Massachusetts.  The program requires IID maintenance, monitoring, live time reporting, and regularly-scheduled service visits.  No credit will be given if Massachusetts standards are not set, or if there is evidence of program violations or non-compliance. The Massachusetts Interlock Operator & Other Licensed Resident Affidavits are provided below and must be completed in order to receive program credit.

Program requirements require IID maintenance and regularly scheduled service visits. No credit will be given if there is evidence of program violations or non-compliance.

Out-of-State Resident Deferment Policy

If a Massachusetts Ignition Interlock Device is required, you cannot drive in the state without one. If you are living out-of-state and choose not to participate in the Massachusetts IID program the interlock restriction will be added to your license until you complete the two (2) year interlock requirement. If you operate a vehicle in Massachusetts without an IID, you could face an additional license suspension as well as being subject to criminal penalties.

Massachusetts will authorize your deferment from the IID program upon a showing of out-of-state residency and execution of an Out-of –State Resident Affidavit. This deferment from the Massachusetts Interlock requirement enables you to apply for a license in another jurisdiction but does not satisfy program completion for Massachusetts purposes.

To complete the deferment process, you must submit to an RMV hearings officer a completed and signed Out-of-State Affidavit, along with two items of proof of out-of-state residency.  Further, all other outstanding license obligations must be met, including suspension periods served, and reinstatement fees must paid before the “T” restriction is removed.

Additional Resources for Out-of-State Policies

IID Removal

Approved Removal

Eligibility for removal of the device for multiple OUI offenders is based upon completing the 2 year IID program requirements and having no program infractions or violations for a period of 6 months prior to the request for removal of the IID, excluding any time of inactive or suspended status.. If you are required to have the IID installed during the conditional hardship license period, the full term of hardship must be served plus an additional 2 years following full license reinstatement.

If your Ignition Interlock Restriction was originally imposed for a period of less than six months, then the Hearings Officer will review the entire period during which that restriction was in place.  If the Hearings Officer finds infractions or violations within that time, excluding any time of inactive or suspended status, the Ignition Interlock Restriction will be extended for six months from the date of the most recent infraction or violation.  At any time, the removal hearing may be adjourned by the Hearings Officer to collect additional evidence as warranted during the review.

The length of the IID requirement is never based on the length of time the IID has been installed, but rather on meeting the appropriate periods of license suspension or revocation as prescribed by law. The Steps for IID Removal is included below.

Un-Authorized Removal

If you remove the IID without prior RMV authorization and program completion, this early un-authorized removal will trigger an immediate license suspension. With this early un-authorized removal, you are no longer active in the IID program, receive no credit towards program completion and are subject to further administrative and criminal penalties.  With this early un-authorized removal and suspension action added, you are no longer active in the IID program and receive no credit towards program completion. 

Authorized Early Withdrawal

To receive approval for an early withdrawal request from the IID program, contact the RMV’s Ignition Interlock department or visit an RMV Hearings Officer.  The IID early withdrawal request will be approved and your license/right to operate will be immediately suspended.   Your license/right to operate will remain suspended indefinitely until you apply and re-enter the IID program and satisfy all IID program requirements.   All time served in the IID program will be credited towards your Massachusetts IID restriction period.

Additional Resources for IID Removal

Indigency Program

Effective July 1, 2021, drivers who are required to have an IID installed as a condition of reinstatement may apply for waiver of certain costs relative to the Interlock Program.  Approved drivers may receive a qualifying interlock device, installation, removal, monitoring, and service at no cost.  Costs for an IID that are related to unjustified lockouts or other behavioral penalties, upgrades, and service plans are not included in the Indigency Program.  Any fees due to the RMV, including reinstatement fees, citation late and release fees, and exam and issuance fees are not included in the IID Indigency program. In order to qualify for the Indigency Program, one of the following criteria must be met and verified:

  • Drivers currently enrolled in MassHealth or who receive benefits via an Electronic Benefits Card with the Department of Transitional Assistance will be electronically verified.
  • Drivers who have a document from a court of competent jurisdiction, dated within 12 months preceding the application of indigency, stating they have been appointed counsel or have otherwise had financial status verified by the court may upload this document through the application portal.
  • Drivers whose income, after taxes, does not exceed 125% of the current Federal Poverty Line, pursuant to the Poverty Guidelines as periodically updated by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court pursuant to G.L. c. 261, § 27B, may enter this date though the application portal, subject to electronic verification.

The RMV will review all applications for indigency submitted through the application portal and will notify drivers of a decision in a timely manner.  The RMV will then electronically notify the IID vendors when installation is approved by an RMV Hearings Officer.

Applications are accepted online via the IID Indigency Application Portal.  See https://www.mass.gov/orgs/massachusetts-registry-of-motor-vehicles for details.  In all cases, if you are aggrieved by a decision or order of the Registrar you may, within ten days of the effective date of the Registrar's order, appeal to the Board of Appeal on Motor Vehicle Liability, Policies and Bonds, 1000 Washington St., 8th Floor, Boston, MA 02118. You can download an appeal application from their website at https://www.mass.gov/how-to/appeal-a-decision-of-the-registrar-of-motor-vehicles

A dedicated phone number has been set up at 989-321-6846 for basic information about the Indigency Program.

IID Contact information

Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles

Ignition Interlock Department

136 Blackstone Street

Boston, MA 02109

Main Phone #  - 857-368-7180

Fax #  - 857-368-0017

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