Can I Leave My Vehicle Running In The Morning To Warm Up My Vehicle If I Have An IID Installed?

Depending on where you live, October brings the first cold snap. And then the temperatures start to drop on a consistent basis. If this is your first autumn with an ignition interlock device (IID) installed in your vehicle, you may be wondering “Can I leave my vehicle running in the morning to warm up my vehicle if I have an IID installed?

While you could leave your car running while you weren’t in it, it would be an extremely bad idea. That’s because the IID doesn’t realize you’re not driving and may prompt you to perform a random, rolling retest at any moment. If you’re not in the car when that happens, the device will record it as a skipped test, and you will be penalized.

State ignition interlock laws differ, but if you skip a rolling retest, the state could extend the length of time you have to have the IID installed. Or it could remove you from the program if you have had other violations. Then you would have to fill out the full length of your suspension, and you would be out any money you had put into the ignition interlock program, such as license application fees, installation cost, and monthly maintenance fees.

So you may need to sacrifice comfort for practicality. Complying with your state’s restricted driving program is more important than being a little chilly. Bundle up, crank up the heat, turn on the heated seats, and sit in the car while the engine is warming up. Letting the engine warm up before you start driving can be particularly important in the dead of winter in places like Minnesota, Michigan, and Montana.

Remember to keep your car’s battery in good shape.

You May Be Able to Warm Up the Handset and Mouthpiece

Most of the time, the handset and mouthpiece do OK just sitting in your vehicle. But if your ignition interlock device has a detachable mouthpiece or handset, you may want to bring them indoors in extremely cold temperatures. Based on the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) model specifications for ignition interlock devices, they should have a detachable head unit. Your car cannot start until the head unit is reattached.

Make sure your state’s ignition interlock program allows you to detach the head unit before attempting to do so. Your service provider should know, and this may be stated in your paperwork. Otherwise, just detach the mouthpiece. If there is condensation left in the mouthpiece when you park your car for the night, ti could actually freeze on the mouthpiece, which could cause performance issues. You might also consider hanging the handset upside down from the steering wheel, so any condensation flows away from the circuitry. That’s basically just so you don’t blow into what feels like a frozen mouthpiece. Both the mouthpiece and handset are built to withstand temperature extremes, so this is more of a comfort issue.

If when you blow into the device on a cold morning it won’t respond or gives you an error code, refer to your owners manual for tips. If it still won’t work, call our Support line 24/7 at  (866) 700-9300. During normal business hours, you can call your service location.

If You Need to Jump-Start Your Car

If your battery has died, and you need to jump-start your IID-equipped vehicle, it’s possible, but you need to take a few extra steps.

  1. If your state allows it, disconnect the handset unit from the curly cord before you connect jumper cables or a charger to your battery. You can only disconnect the handset while your vehicle is off. 
  2. Follow the directions in your vehicle’s user manual to connect the jumper cables or charger to your battery. Or look it up online if you have to.
  3. After you charge the battery for the specified amount of time, reconnect the handset.
  4. Try to start your vehicle as you normally do, and submit the breath sample when instructed.
  5. Once the car starts, remove the jumper cables or charger following the directions..

It’s important you don’t try to start the car before you reconnect the handset. Attempting to start the car without reconnecting the handset would be a serious program violation.If you have any questions, feel free to call your local service provider or the ALCOLOCK toll-free number.

Schedule Ignition Interlock Device Installation

If you need to get an ignition interlock device installed on your vehicle, help is just a phone call away. Call one of our service locations directly, or call ALCOLOCK at (866) 700-9300 to schedule your ignition interlock installation appointment. Once we have confirmation that you are eligible for your state’s restricted driving program, we can generally get you an appointment within two business days. We offer fast and affordable ignition interlock device installation and maintenance at locations around the country.

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