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The Law Office of Stephen W. Wolf, LLC

26777 Lorain Road Suite 709

North Olmsted, Ohio  44070


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Ohio Interlock Violation

Fighting an interlock violation requires an intense, aggressive defense!

Call now:  440-777-1177


If you are convicted of an OVI violation you maybe required by the court to install an interlock device on your vehicle as a condition of granting you driving privileges.  If you had a prior OVI violation, an interlock is required to allow you to have driving privileges.

An interlock is a device which is supposed to measure the amount of alcohol in your breath.  You are required to blow into the device prior to starting your car.  Should that device decide you have alcohol on your breath, the device will register a violation.  Most units will keep you from starting the car.  The interlock will require you blow now-and-again while driving.  If a violation occurs while driving, it is logged and will be reported to the court.

More expensive interlock units take a digital picture of your submitting to the test.

What does "interlock required" mean?

If you are required to have an interlock on a car you are driving, then you can drive any car with an interlock installed.

Some of my clients have chose not to install an interlock on their car, but instead install it on another vehicle they or someone else owns.  In that way, their car isn't torn up by the installation and removal of the device.

Does installation of an interlock affect my vehicle?

Darn right it does!  The interlock company goes in and makes significant changes to the wiring on your vehicle.  The interlock interrupts the signal that allows you to start your car.  Until that signal is present, the car can't be started.  Further, there are connections to power and sometimes to other systems.

These installations are not trivial.  It changes the way your vehicle works.  If done wrong, all sorts of problems arise.

Judicial notice

Courts normally take judicial notice regarding the ability of the interlock to do what the company says it will do.  Once they do this, you cannot attack the way the machine works.  You cannot say that the device is invalid because the theory behind it is invalid.

When ordered by the court, who is the customer of the interlock company?

It is clear that interlock companies consider the court is the customer they are working for.  They discount you, who are paying for the installation and use of the device.  They consider you a defendant with nothing to say in the matter.

This causes a very "tight" relationship between a court and an interlock company.  Some courts only work through one interlock company.

Without competition, these situations sometimes cause an interlock company to feel they are untouchable.  They might believe that.  I don't.

Even though you are paying for the service from the interlock company, you will find yourself being treated as a third party.  This is part of the system.

So I am screwed by this relationship, right?

Basically, yes, you are.  Fighting an interlock violation requires an intense, aggressive defense.


An intense and aggressive defense

Interlock violations are attacked on a number of levels.  These devices are little computers.  The little computers are attached to alcohol detection units.  The accuracy of these alcohol detection units are nowhere near the accuracy of the devices used at the police station to measure your breath alcohol.

Issues include:

  • Hardware installation issues

  • Hardware issues

  • Judicial notice as to hardware

  • Software issues

  • Software version issues

  • Judicial notice as to software

  • Installation issues

  • Wiring issue

  • Power issues

  • Installer competency

  • Repair person competency

  • Company competency

  • Manufacturer competency

Because of the nature of the device, the company that is in the relationship with the court, the manufacturer and many other issues, these defense strategies become complicated.  In most cases, evidence in your favor comes out at the hearing.


What do you, as my attorney, need from me?

I hope by this time you've come to the conclusion you need a competent attorney to defend you.

What do I need?

  • Installation -- A complete record of the installation of your device.  This includes who installed it, when, what happened, the names of the "salesperson".  The name of the installer.  And anything else that occurred at installation.

  • Repair -- Most times the device has to go back for service every few months.  I need everything you can tell me about everything associated with the repair of the device.

  • Operation -- KEEP A LOG!  You need to keep a log with all this information in it.

Why should I hire you?

  • While I don't have a degree in electrical engineering, I did attend over three years of electrical engineering training at the Ohio State University before realizing how much I did NOT want to be an engineer.

  • I have thirty-two years experience with as a police officer and have an excellent understanding of these problems from that perspective.

  • I've had extensive and in-depth training on alcohol measurement, including being able to work on and maintain such devices down to the component level.

  • While I do not have a degree in a software-related field, I own a company that writes and sells software (though I am not actively writing or selling at this time).  Further, in my other employment, I was responsible for significant software-related issues.  I can write computer code down the machine code/assembler level.

In addition:

  • Unless there is some horrible problem, you will only work with me.  I will not off-load you to some minion.

  • I answer my phone.  If I am busy, I will return your call at the first opportunity.  I do not have a secretary to take and misinterpret your message.  I want your words in my voicemail so I understand what is happening.

  • I care.

And finally:

  • I have a conviction that destroying the lives of defendants on devices that are shown again and again to be unreliable is improper.  That makes me angry.

Can you beat my interlock probation violation?

Until you call, I can't tell.  Even then, it will be the decision of the judge, not me.  If your facts show that there are problems with the unit, how it was installed, how it was repaired and your history with the unit, maybe I can help you.

Call now:  440-777-1177


An example of a judicial issue

On the way to work you stop and get coffee.  You go back to your car and blow into the interlock.  The interlock won't let you start your car.  You try again and it starts.  You go to work.

You receive notice of a probation violation based on the above events.

You tell the judge that it was you that blew into the machine when you started the car at home, when the unit says you had alcohol on your breath at the coffee shop and a minute or two later, when the device says you did not have alcohol on your breath.

The judge tells you he or she believes that halfway to work and while sober you pulled in to get coffee, got coffee, got drunk, failed the first test and then had someone else blow into the interlock in order to continue.

Bet you wish you had hired an attorney.

Call now:  440-777-1177


Interlock/Court issues

The interlock company spokesperson who will testify against you is a person who may have never graduated from high school, let alone have some understanding of electrical engineering, electronic engineering, computer science, software engineering, chemistry, physiology or anything else that might help him or her be competent regarding the interlock.

In the above case, the interlock employee testifies, throwing up his or her arms, saying, "Someone else must have blown into the machine!"

If the judge buys into that fantasy, unsupported by any evidence, you are sunk.

Bet you wish you had hired an attorney.

Call now:  440-777-1177


Problems with the device

You tell the judge that the device was back twice.  Once they changed the software.  The second time they worked on the wiring.  This last time was a few days before you were violated.

The judge asks, "Did it work after you left the repair shop?"  You reply, "Yes".  The judge says, "Then the machine was fixed and working!"

Bet you wish you had hired an attorney.

Call now:  440-777-1177


How does a probation violation work?

Felony versus Misdemeanor violation

In some counties, a felony probation violation results in an arrest and the scheduling of a probation violation hearing.  This will be done in two or three weeks.  Yes, you sit in the county jail two or three weeks before you have the right to be heard on an unproven probation violation.

Some municipal courts on first offense

Some probation departments allow you to admit a first offense interlock violation.  If you admit, you will have to sign a form and consent to significant additions to your probation.  These might include a year extension to your probation, signification amounts of community service, a "fee" which looks to all the world like a "fine".  There might be many other requirements.

Unfortunately, the poor will often take this punishment regardless of whether the violation is valid or not.

  • They cannot afford an attorney and have no faith in public defenders

  • For the working poor, they cannot afford to take time off work

  • They have no way to get to the court on numerous dates, especially in winter

  • They are afraid of probation, often with good reason

  • They are afraid of the judge, often with good reason

  • They have kids that are not allowed in court and they cannot afford to have someone watch them

  • ... the list goes on

You have due process rights

When you violate probation, you have due process rights.  This means you have the right to a hearing.

First hearing -- the arraignment

The first court appearance will be for arraignment.  You can admit or deny the offense.  If you admit, you will normally be sentenced right then and there.  If you deny, you will be given a date for a full hearing.  You go home.

Second hearing -- the "full" hearing

You come back for the full hearing.  This is a trial.  This isn't a trial.

It is a trial because people are sworn in, testimony is given and the judge makes a decision.

It is not a trial because the judge take much more active role in the process.  In municipal court, the judge often becomes the prosecutor.  (Bet you wished you hired an attorney.  Call now:  440-777-1177.)  Evidence gets in that won't normally get in during this hearing.  Even evidence that shouldn't come in, might, if you don't object.  (Bet you wished you hired an attorney.  Call now:  440-777-1177.)

In the end, the judge will chose who to believe.

An appeal to a higher court is sometimes necessary.

Call now:  440-777-1177