What Happens If I Fail a Rolling Retest?

If you have to get an ignition interlock device installed in your car after a DUI, you have a lot of questions. Well, ALCOLOCK has the answers. Today, we address the question “What happens if I fail a rolling retest?”

But first, we need to explain what a rolling retest is. There are two types of tests with an ignition interlock device — startup tests and random, or rolling retests. Of course, you know the startup test is the one that determines if you can or cannot start your car. Pass, and you start the car. Fail, and you are locked out for a certain length of time based on your state, and how many previous startup tests you have failed.

Rolling Retests, Explained

The random, or rolling retests, are required after you have started the car, and have been driving for a certain length of time. But they are random, so you can’t plan around them. The idea is to make sure you haven’t started drinking since you started the car and started driving.

Your device will alert you to the need for a rolling retest. You will then have about 5 minutes to give a breath sample. This allows you to pull over, or park the car before submitting a breath sample. You can also take a rolling retest while you are still driving — just be careful and keep your eyes on the road.

If you pass the rolling retest, all is good.

But what happens if you fail a rolling retest?

Well, first of all, the car engine WILL NOT SHUT DOWN. That would be a major safety hazard, and could cause an accident. This safety measure is required by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration model specifications for ignition interlock devices. But what happens next depends on the state you live in, and the specific requirements your state has for ignition interlock devices.

Since the device is hooked into your car’s electrical system, your lights may start flashing and your horn may start honking. It’s important that you pull over as soon as possible after failing a rolling retest, and shut off the ignition.


Just like when you fail a test at startup, the device will enter a lockout period after you fail a rolling retest. How long that is, depends again on your state’s ignition interlock laws. If you haven’t been drinking, don’t panic. We recommend waiting 10-15 minutes after eating before you take a rolling retest, and to rinse your mouth out with water before you do. Some foods and medicines can cause there to be enough alcohol on your breath that the device reads it as above the state-mandated limit of .02-.025. If you think you failed the rolling retest for this reason, you should alert your monitoring agency.

If you fail the test again after the initial lockout period, you will enter a new, and longer lockout period. The device will record the results of each of these failed tests. And in some states, if you fail 3 tests in a row, you will enter a permanent lockout, which can only be resolved by your service center.

And don’t even think about trying to have a passenger take the rolling retest for you. Your device may be camera-equipped, which means every time you (or someone else) blows into the device, it snaps a picture. The device is also calibrated to you, specifically, and will detect if it is someone else giving the breath sample. Attempting to have someone else take the test for you is a major program violation, and could result in you facing fines, jail time, and needing to serve your full license suspension with no driving privileges.

If you’ve been drinking, don’t attempt to drive. It’s that simple.

Schedule Ignition Interlock Device Installation

If you need to get an IID installed, ALCOLOCK can help. We have a number of ignition interlock device installation locations in states across the country. Just call the service location most convenient to you to set up your appointment. Keep in mind that where you get the device installed is where you will take your vehicle in for monthly service visits. You can also call ALCOLOCK directly at (866) 700-9300.

When you call, please have your state or court paperwork with you, as we will need some of that information. Also, pick a day and time for installation where someone can drive you and your vehicle to the appointment. If someone else will be using the vehicle while you have the device installed, they should come with you.

The installation appointment will last about an hour. That time includes physical installation of the ignition interlock device in your car, as well as the time it takes to train you and anyone else how to use it. Your technician will calibrate the device to you, specifically, and explain what all of the lights, sounds, and messages mean. You will get a user’s manual to help you if you forget something. Also, before you leave, you will schedule your first service visit. Those are generally every 30 days and last about 20 minutes.

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