Why Do I Fail The Ignition Interlock Device Breath Test After Eating?

If you didn’t know already, your ignition interlock device (IID) is highly sensitive and highly accurate when it comes to detecting alcohol on your breath. That’s required by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) in its model specifications for breath alcohol ignition interlock devices. Add to that the fact that most states set the test failure blood alcohol content (BAC) level at .02 or .025, and you’re pretty much going to fail the test is there is any alcohol on your breath whatsoever.

But you say you haven’t had any alcohol to drink. Well, surprise! There are a number of things you may have just consumed that will cause you to fail the ignition interlock device breath test after eating. While the amounts of alcohol in these foods, drinks, or medications are not enough to impair your driving, the alcohol content can be high enough to cause a test failure.

These can include:

  • Rum cake
  • Pasta with vodka sauce
  • Baked goods with a high amount of vanilla extract
  • Bread, pizza, and pastries that contain yeast
  • Red wine vinegar (think salad dressing)
  • Soy sauce
  • Energy drinks
  • Non-alcoholic beer or wine
  • Mouthwash
  • Breath spray
  • Some cold and cough medicines, such as syrup or decongestants
  • Dental pain topical medications

You need to vigilant with what you eat and drink, and what types of medicine you use while you have an ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle. But besides watching what you eat or drink, there are steps you can take to prevent an accidental test failure.

We suggest rinsing your mouth out with water after eating, to remove any food particles or liquid that might contain trace amounts of alcohol. Then wait 15 minutes before submitting a breath sample. Remember that the alcohol is in your mouth, not your bloodstream (as it is with alcoholic drinks), so once you rinse, you should be good to go.

What to Do if You Accidentally Fail Your Ignition Interlock Device Breath Test

If you truly have not been drinking alcohol, yet you still failed the breath test, you should contact the person or agency monitoring your progress in the program to let them know what happened. You may also want to contact your DUI lawyer. If your device is camera-equipped, you may be able to use the snapshot taken at the time of your failed breath test to help bolster your case that you had not been drinking.

Each state has different ignition interlock laws. Most states give you a slight grace period when you first get the IID installed, so you can learn how to use it properly. But not all states do. Your paperwork should spell out how many times in a row you can fail the breath test before the vehicle locks you out entirely. The devices monitor each time you pass or fail the test. And the DMV/DOT gets a report each month of your progress in the program. And you should know that failing the test can result in increased penalties. Those might include the extension of your restricted driving program, or even dismissal from the program, depending on how many violations you have accrued.

Early Recall

Depending on your state’s requirements, most people with IIDs must visit the service center every 30 days, or every 60 days. But if you fail one or more startup tests or rolling retests, your state may have your device alert you to an early recall. This means instead of waiting until the end of the 30 day period, you must bring your vehicle to the service center promptly — usually within 7 days. The device may start a countdown, and if you don’t visit the service center by the deadline, the device will enter permanent lockout.

This means you will not be able to start the car, sober or not. You will need to have it towed to your service center. So don’t ignore alerts to visit your service center.

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.

Plan on having someone drive you to that first appointment. During your appointment, the technician will install the device, as well as train you on how to use the device. If someone else will be using your vehicle while the IID is installed, they should come in for training as well. We offer fast and affordable ignition interlock device installation and maintenance at locations around the country.

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