Can an ignition interlock device detect marijuana?


Frequently, people who have ignition interlock devices installed in their vehicles have questions about what can and cannot be done with an ignition interlock device, and what exactly the ignition interlock device does. One question that comes up a lot is, ‘Does my ignition interlock device detect marijuana?’ The answer is no. At this time ignition interlock devices can only detect alcohol on your breath. Ignition interlock devices are alcohol specific, meaning they can only detect alcohol. This is also true for breathalyzers used by police officers. However, there is a roadside test that is used to detect the presence of marijuana in a person’s saliva.

Ignition interlock devices have come a long way since they were sensor cell devices. Most ignition interlock devices are now fuel cell devices. These new fuel cell devices allow the ignition interlock device to eliminate false readings from the presence of cigarette smoke, tobacco, or possibly spicy foods, among other substances that provided ‘false positive’ results on tests. In the past ignition interlock devices have been faulty, and things like chewing tobacco would provide false positives. Now that they run on fuel cell technology many of those faulty false positive readings have been eliminated. While they have come a long way, the ignition interlock devices are still not equipped to detect anything on your breath, other than alcohol.

While an ignition interlock device does not detect the presence of marijuana in your system, you should know that it is still illegal for you to drive under the influence of any substance, and this includes marijuana. If you have a DWI and are pulled over and police find marijuana in your system this will affect your probation, and all parts of your DWI conviction. It could be, and likely will be, considered a second offense, and punishments for second offenses are even more stringent.

Just because the ignition interlock device does not detect marijuana does not mean you should get behind the wheel if you have been smoking. The new roadside test can detect even minor amounts of marijuana in your saliva, and if you have a DWI you do not want to be caught driving under the influence again. Another thing to remember is that many times smoking marijuana comes hand-in-hand with drinking, especially in social settings. Your ignition interlock device is not equipped to detect marijuana on your breath, but it will still detect any and all alcohol on your breath, and could prevent you from starting your vehicle.

Currently, ignition interlock devices are unable to detect marijuana, and are only equipped to detect alcohol that may be on your breath. You should not, however, get behind the wheel of a car if you have been smoking marijuana. Driving under the influence of marijuana is still considered a DWI, and you cannot say you thought you were okay to drive because your ignition interlock device allowed you to start your vehicle. Ignition interlock devices are not equipped to detect marijuana, and it will still be considered illegal if an officer pulls you over and tests you for marijuana.


May 2020
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