How does the ignition interlock device work?


The ignition interlock device prevents you from starting your vehicle if you have been drinking. Before you are able to start your vehicle you will have to breathe into your ignition interlock device. The ignition interlock device will use fuel cell technology to analyze your breath, and determine whether or not you have alcohol on your breath, and if it is over the predetermined levels that are allowed. If the ignition interlock device registers a positive test result, meaning you have consumed too much alcohol, your vehicle will not start. The ignition interlock device will be connected to your car’s ignition and will not allow your car to start if there is alcohol on your breath.

Once you have started your vehicle you will be required to participate in rolling retests throughout your drive. The first retest usually occurs within five minutes of you starting the car. These rolling retests are performed the same way the initial test is performed. You will breathe into the ignition interlock device and it will analyze your breath for alcohol. After that there will be rolling retests periodically, during your drive. If you pass the initial test, but fail a rolling retest your car will not just stop in the middle of the road. Instead the ignition interlock device will log the positive test result. Some ignition interlock devices will force the car to start flashing headlights, and set off your car alarm to get you to pull over.

To keep your ignition interlock device in good, working condition you will need to get it calibrated periodically. It is recommended that you get your ignition interlock device re-calibrated every sixty days to ensure accuracy and proper function. The ignition interlock device will alert you when it is in need of service, or if there is an error by a flashing light on the unit, or a sounding tone. If the unit goes unserviced for too long it may lock you out of starting your vehicle, thus forcing you to have your car towed to the installation facility for servicing.

The ignition interlock device is easy to use, and is proven at helping prevent repeat DWIs. You do not have to be convicted of a DWI to have on installed in your vehicle. You can also voluntarily install one in your vehicle to prevent you or someone else who uses your vehicle from driving under the influence of alcohol. At this time ignition interlock devices only detect the presence of alcohol, so it will not detect drugs like marijuana, although that is still considered driving under the influence.


May 2020
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