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How does an ignition interlock device work?

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How does an ignition interlock device work?

POSTED ON: 01/13/2021

An ignition interlock device works by requiring a driver to blow into a mouthpiece to test his or her breath alcohol concentration (BrAC) before his or her vehicle will start. If the device detects a BrAC greater than a preset level, the automobile breathalyzer prevents the engine from starting. Ignition interlock technology is pretty impressive, but it's actually relatively easy to understand how it helps to keep roads safer.

Initial interlock device test

We offer the most advanced, discreet, and simple-to-use products. When you try to start your vehicle, the interlock car device will interrupt the signal from the ignition to the starter unless a valid breath sample is provided. If the sample is within the appropriate guidelines when you blow into the mouthpiece, the car will start.

Our ignition interlock devices work by using fuel cell technology to measure breath alcohol concentration.

Random Retest

To prevent any drinking after the initial test, you may also be prompted to perform what is sometimes called a “rolling retest” once you are driving. We actually rather the term “random retest” since you shouldn't perform the test while the car is actually moving (rolling). You should pull over safely and stop before performing a random retest.

You won’t know in advance when these random tests will occur since they're set at random intervals. The interlock device will prompt you by making a sound and displaying information on its screen. The screen will also show the amount of time remaining to perform the test.

A few important things to remember about random retests:

  • A random retest will always allow you time to safely pull your vehicle over, perform the test, and continue on your way.
  • If you fail a random retest, your engine will never suddenly stop. However, the ignition interlock device will log the positive test result.
  • If a breath sample isn’t provided or is outside of the programmed limits of the interlock device, it will log the event and warn you about the violation.

Random retests are very helpful to you during your program. These tests confirm that you are complying with your court or state-administered interlock device requirements while you are driving. Initial tests will allow your vehicle to start, but the random retests that happen during your drive validate your sobriety while on the road.

Calibrate the interlock device on a regular basis

In order for an ignition interlock device to work correctly, it must be calibrated on a regular monthly basis.

When you visit one of our locations, a technician will:

  • Check your device and your system to make sure everything is working properly
  • Perform any necessary programming updates for the device
  • Download any test data and forward it to your monitoring authority

Calibration usually doesn't take long and can be performed at any of our locations. The device will alert you when it needs service. If you miss a service appointment, you may be prevented from starting your vehicle so make sure you contact us ASAP about rescheduling.

In the event your grace period expires, your vehicle will go into a lockout and the vehicle will not start. Our device has a remote code unlock feature. You’ll call us at (866) 447-8686 to get the code. Then you’ll be able to start your vehicle one time after a successful breath test. At that point you’ll need to drive the vehicle directly into a Smart Start service center.

Our interlock technology works and it can work for you

That’s a high-level overview of how ignition interlock works. It’s not complicated, but there are a lot of details to keep in mind.

Your Smart Start ignition interlock device is designed to be simple to use and easy to take care of. It’s still difficult to know everything about your device, though, which is why having the best customer support is so important. Our team will make sure you understand how to use your device based on your specific program's rules and regulations.

If you need to learn more about ignition interlock or make an installation appointment, call us at (866) 447-8686. It’s easy to find a service center near you.

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