How Many Times Can You Fail an Ignition Interlock Device?

If you have an ignition interlock device (IID) installed on your vehicle, you know there are a lot of rules involved with using the device and maintaining your eligibility for your state’s restricted driving program. Each state has ignition interlock device laws on the books, but how many times you can fail an ignition interlock device breath test before it permanently locks you out varies from state to state.

When your ALCOLOCK technician installs your ignition interlock device, they show you how it works, and have you practice giving a breath sample until you are doing it correctly. At this time, they will also go over your state’s requirements. We calibrate and set up each ignition interlock device according to each state’s specifications.

In most cases, if you fail the breath test once, you are allowed to wait a few minutes before trying again. You can use this time to swish your mouth out with water, or whatever. If you fail a second time, the period you have to wait before trying again will be longer. In many states, the third attempt is your last chance. Pass the test and you can start the vehicle. Fail the breath test, and the device will lock you out permanently. This will require you to get your vehicle towed to your local service center where the technician will upload the information the device has recorded, and reset it so that you may continue to drive your car.

Penalties for Failing the Ignition Interlock Device Breath Test

In addition to the hassle of having to get your vehicle towed to the service center, you should know that you will face penalties from the court and your DMV. Failing the IID breath test is considered a program violation. So is skipping a rolling retest, continuing to drive after failing a rolling retest, and attempting to tamper with the device. Depending on your state and your violation(s), penalties for any of those violations can include:

  • Fines
  • Time in jail
  • Extension of the time you have to have the IID installed
  • Being kicked out of the restricted driving program and having to serve out the full length of your suspension
  • Mandatory substance abuse treatment
  • And more

If you value the freedom of being able to drive to and from work or school, and run errands, you can see that complying with the terms of your ignition interlock device program is a good idea. Trying to drink and drive with an IID, or trying to beat the system can cost you.

Extenuating Circumstances

Sometimes the device registers a test failure, but it’s not your fault. There are a couple of circumstances where this can happen.

False Positive

In reality, there’s no such thing as a false positive with an ignition interlock device. They are very accurate in detecting the most minute amount of alcohol. That includes alcohol contained in mouthwash, certain energy drinks, some cough medicines, and more. If you think your device registered a test failure because of this, and not because you had been drinking, you should contact your monitoring agency and your ALCOLOCK service center right away.

Someone Else Failed the Test

If someone else drives your IID-equipped vehicle, they are required to take the breath test and periodic breath tests just like you are. It’s a good idea to keep a detailed schedule of when the other person is driving your car, so if they fail the test, you can let your monitoring agency know that it wasn’t you. That helps you avoid the penalties associated with the failed test. In some instances where states require IIDs to be camera-equipped, there will be visual evidence that you were not the one to fail the breath test.

Ignition Interlock Device Installation

ALCOLOCK has dozens of ignition interlock device installation locations in states throughout the country, and we’re always adding new locations. To schedule your ignition interlock device installation, you can call the service center nearest you directly, or you can call us at 866-700-9300. For general questions, or to schedule online, you can also use our contact form, and someone will get back to you shortly.

What to Expect at Your IID Installation

Since your license has been suspended, you’ll need to have someone drive you and your vehicle to the ALCOLOCK service center. You’ll be able to drive the vehicle off the lot once the IID is installed. Your ignition interlock device installation appointment will last about an hour. Your service technician will install the electronic control unit (ECU) and will calibrate the handheld device to you, specifically. If you share your vehicle and someone else will be driving it while the IID is installed, bring them with you to the installation appointment so they can receive training, too. Before you leave, you’ll sign some paperwork and receive an owner’s manual.

You will also schedule your first service appointment. And don’t worry — the device will give you reminders as that date approaches. Lastly, if you have any questions or issues with your ignition interlock device, you can call us 24/7 at 866-700-9300. You may also want to visit our Support page for troubleshooting tips for ALCOLOCK ignition interlock devices.

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