As the name implies, an ignition interlock device (IID) is designed to lock you out from starting your car when you’ve been drinking. It’s essentially an in-car breathalyzer that controls your vehicle’s starter. All ignition interlock devices installed in the United States must comply with the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) model specifications for IIDs.
The overriding specification is that the devices must be able to accurately recognize the smallest amount of alcohol on your breath and dependably prevent you from starting your car if you’ve been drinking.
All 50 states have ignition interlock laws. And all states require a lockout under certain circumstances. There are two types of lockouts — temporary and permanent (or service lockout). Before we get to the top 6 causes of an ignition interlock lockout, we need to define the two types.
A temporary lockout is just that — temporary. If you fail a test, the device will go into lockout mode for a state-specified amount of time and will display a countdown. Once the countdown hits 0, you can provide another breath sample. If it’s a clean sample, you can start your car. If the device detects a prohibited amount of alcohol, it will enter lockout mode again.
Permanent Lockout (Service Lockout)
If your device enters permanent lockout, that means you have to take your vehicle in for service. You cannot drive your vehicle until the service technician unlocks the device. This may mean towing your vehicle to a service center, or, if your state allows it, the technician unlocking the device remotely.
So that brings us to the top lockout causes.
1. Failed Breath Test
The most common cause of an ignition interlock lockout is a failed breath test. While ignition interlock laws vary from state to state, most states set the blood alcohol content (BAC) level at which the device will lock you out at .02-.025. Most people can have that BAC after one drink. One failed breath test can lead to a temporary lockout, and you can give another breath test in a few minutes. How many failed tests you may have before a permanent lockout will depend on your state’s program rules.
2. Skipping a Rolling Retest
Once you have passed the startup breath test and you’re driving along, you are required to submit randomly timed breath samples. These are called rolling retests. The device will display a message and make a sound to warn you that you have a retest coming up. These tests are designed to ensure you have not started drinking once you got the car started. If you skip a rolling retest, the device WILL NOT STOP YOUR CAR in the middle of traffic but may enter a service lockout when you turn the ignition off.
3. Missed or Skipped Service Visit
Each state requires you to bring your vehicle in for regular service visits. These are generally every 30 days. At these visits, the technician recalibrates your ignition interlock device as needed. They also download the information the device has recorded, and transmit it to your monitoring authority. You may also have an early recall service visit. Your device tells you when these visits are coming up. Skipping a maintenance visit will lead to a service lockout.
4. Attempting to Bypass the Device
Your ignition interlock device is a sophisticated piece of electronic equipment and records a lot of information. When you first get the device, the technician calibrates it to you, specifically. The device can detect if you try to get someone else to blow into the device for you, or try and use some other method to blow air into the device. A bypass attempt can lead to a service lockout.
5. Attempting to Tamper with or Remove the Device
Your ignition interlock device is designed to be tamper-proof. It will send an alert to the service center if it detects an attempt to tamper with it or remove it. Tampering with, or attempting to remove the device will lead to a service lockout, and could also lead to you getting kicked out of the program. If you damage the device, you will be responsible for the replacement cost.
6. Vehicle Maintenance
If you want to avoid a lockout due to vehicle maintenance, you should notify ALCOLOCK if a mechanic is going to work on your car. You should also make sure your mechanic knows you have an IID installed. If a mechanic needs technical assistance while performing maintenance or repairs on your vehicle, they can call ALCOLOCK at (866) 700-9300.
Avoiding an Ignition Interlock Device Lockout
The best way to avoid a lockout is to follow the program rules. Don’t attempt to drink and drive, make sure you bring your vehicle in for service as required, and don’t attempt to tamper with it or remove it. And of course, let your mechanic know you have an IID installed before they do any work on your car.
ALCOLOCK Ignition Interlock Device Installation Near You
Do you need to get an ignition interlock device installed on your vehicle? Do you want to save money? ALCOLOCK is ready to serve you. We have ignition interlock installation locations across the country, and we provide fast and affordable installation. Call the service center nearest you to schedule an installation appointment, or call ALCOLOCK at (866) 700-9300.
Make sure you have your DMV/DOT paperwork with you when you call, to help us confirm your eligibility for your state’s restricted driving program. In most cases, we can schedule your installation within 48 hours of your call.
At ALCOLOCK, our goal is to get you back on the road quickly. We look forward to working with you!