An ignition interlock device (IID) is a machine that is installed into your car and requires a breath sample in order for the car to start.

How does interlock work?

Interlock is wired into the car’s starting device. In order for the vehicle to start, the driver is required to provide a breath sample. The device checks for the detection of alcohol. If the machine does not detect alcohol, then the car will start. If it does detect alcohol, the driver will be unable to start the car.

Does interlock require samples while I’m driving?

Yes. Interlock devices do require “rolling samples.” But, no, the intention is not to distract the driver. The driver just has to pick up the device, provide a sample, and then put it down. The driver does not even have to look at the device to provide the breath sample.

If the driver is not comfortable providing the sample while driving, the device gives the driver about 6 minutes to pull over to a safe place to provide the breath sample.

If I fail a rolling sample, will the car stop immediately?

No. The device will not automatically shut off the car. That is dangerous and would cause accidents. That’s not the point of the device. The device will set off an alarm saying that the driver’s sample contains alcohol. The car’s alarm will sound and the car’s lights will flash until you pull over and provide another sample. If that retest contains alcohol the car will not start. The car will not stop on it’s own. But, the alarm will not stop and the lights will not stop flashing until the ignition is turned off.

What if someone else blows into my interlock device for me?

The new “Annie’s law” makes that a misdemeanor of the first degree. Anyone who provides a breath sample into an interlock device for another person faces up to 180 days in jail and up to a $1000 fine.

What can cause a “false positive?”

There are several myths about what can cause someone to violate the interlock device. While, some are possible. It’s not likely. But here some foods and products to be mindful of while operating an IID.

  1. Yeasty-Sweet foods: Donuts, cinnamon rolls, sweetbreads can create a positive reading on an interlock device. When the yeast and sugar combine, they provide a chemical composition that can appear to be alcohol. The best way to prevent this is to wash your mouth out with water thoroughly before blowing into the device. Also- wait 15 or so minutes before providing a breath sample.
  2. Mouthwash or mints: Yes. Some mouthwashes, mints, and chocolates do contain alcohol. Make sure you read labels while you are using an interlock device.
  3. Hand sanitizer: Hand sanitizer is alcohol. Do not use this immediately prior to operating the device.
  4. Perfume: Some perfumes do contain alcohol. Make sure you don’t immediately apply or spray on perfume in the car if you need to provide a sample.