Does an Interlock Device Damage Your Car?

If you need to get an interlock device installed on your car after a DUI, you may be worried that it may cause problems. We’re here to tell you that the answer to “Does an interlock device damage your car” is a firm NO.

Whether your car is an old beater or a brand new luxury SUV, you can rest assured that the ignition interlock device (IID) will not damage your car in any way, shape, or form. To ensure there is no damage to your car or the device during installation, all states require that installation be performed by a certified ignition interlock device vendor like ALCOLOCK.

No DIY installation allowed, and no DIY removal allowed — in fact, that is a major program violation.

Ignition Interlock Device Installation is Worry-Free

Our trained technicians take care not to make a mess or bump anything when they install your ignition interlock device. And the installation itself is relatively simple. The IID consists of two components: the Electronic Control Unit (ECU) and the handheld device. The technician will physically wire the ECU into your vehicle’s starter system. This will not damage your starter or electrical system. Then they connect the sensor head/handheld device and calibrate it.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) Model Specifications for Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Devices specifies that IIDs may not interfere with the normal operation of your vehicle (other than preventing you from starting it if you fail the breath test). Similarly, the device will not interfere with your electronics such as car stereo, GPS, Bluetooth, etc.

All 50 states have ignition interlock laws, and while who has to get an interlock device, and for how long may vary, they have all adopted the NHTSA standards.

How the Interlock Device Works

Each time you want to start your car, you breathe into the mouthpiece on the handheld device. The handheld device communicates to the ECU the results of the blood alcohol content (BAC) analysis. If the device detects that you have a BAC of less than .02, you can start the vehicle as you normally would. But if the IID detects a BAC of .02 or higher, it will lock you out, or prevent you from starting the car.

State interlock program rules vary, but most states give you an opportunity to blow a clean breath sample within a few minutes. If you haven’t been drinking in the last 24 hours, rinsing your mouth out with water and trying again in a few minutes should result in you passing the test. If you fail the test a second time, the length of time before you can blow a new sample will increase. Each state determines how many times you are allowed to try and fail before the device enters a permanent lockout.

The best way to avoid a permanent lockout is to not attempt to take the breath test if you’ve been drinking.

Rolling Retests

Once you have started driving, the device will prompt you to give randomly timed breath samples. These are called rolling retests. These tests are to ensure that you don’t start drinking and driving after your initial startup. If you pass the rolling retest, nothing happens, except that the device records you passed. If you skip or fail the rolling retest, the device WILL NOT STOP YOUR CAR. The engine will keep running, but depending on your state, the horn may start honking or the lights may flash until you stop the car.

Service Visits

So as you would imagine, the ignition interlock device records every test you take. It also records if you try and tamper or remove the device. At your service visit, which is usually every 30 days, your technician will transmit all of the data to our monitoring agency. In some states, if you fail a certain number of breath tests, that information is communicated immediately.

If you skip a service visit, your vehicle may enter permanent lockout.

Schedule Your Interlock Device Installation

Scheduling your ignition interlock device installation with ALCOLOCK is easy. With ignition interlock installation locations across the country, we probably have one near you. Just call the service location most convenient to your home or work to schedule your IID installation, or call ALCOLOCK at (866) 700-9300.

Be sure to have your DMV/DOT paperwork with you when you call, as it has some information on it that we will need.

Plan Ahead for a Smooth Ignition Interlock Device Installation

Arrange to have someone drive you and your vehicle to the appointment.  You can drive once the IID is installed. You’ll need to block out about an hour for your installation appointment. During this time, the technician will connect the Electronic Control Unit (ECU) to your vehicle’s starter. The technician will also calibrate the handheld device to you, specifically, and train you in how to use it correctly. They will go over what the various sounds and messages mean. And don’t worry, you don’t have to remember everything immediately. You will get a user’s manual to keep with you until you complete your restricted driving program.

Finally, the technician will make an appointment for your first service visit. All states require these service visits, usually on a monthly basis. The device will send you a reminder of your maintenance appointment a few days in advance. If you must reschedule the visit, call your Service Center right away. You need to bring your vehicle in for the service visit within a certain timeframe or risk a permanent lockout.

Payment for installation will be required the day of installation.

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