FAQ’s


What is an ignition interlock?
Are Ignition Interlocks effective?
Are there any standards to ensure that ignition interlock devices are accurate and reliable?
Does the interlock need periodic service?
What happens if I forget my routine service appointment?
What happens if I fail the breath test?
What if I use medicine or mouthwash in the morning with an alcohol base?
Can a vehicle be “hot wired” to start without a breath test?
Will the interlock turn off my engine?
What if my vehicle stalls?
If the unit would malfunction, will it shut off my vehicle?
Can other people operate my vehicle?
Can someone else take the test for me to start the vehicle (i.e. “curb service”)?
Will the requirements to take a “running retest” cause me to take my eyes off the road creating a hazardous situation?
What happens when my interlock equipped vehicle needs repair?
Will the unit lose all memory if the battery is disconnected?
Can the device be tampered with by computer?
Will the interlock damage my vehicle wiring?
What happens if I am out of state and experience problems with my unit?
If I get stranded and I think it is the unit causing a problem is there anything I can do?
Can someone use a balloon or other air source to mimic human breath?
Can I leave my car running outside of a bar, drink inside and then drive away?
Do you have bilingual service?

What is an ignition interlock?

An ignition interlock is a device that measures the alcohol in your breath and allows you to start your vehicle if it is below the set point. The device also requires periodic retests while the vehicle is running. The interlock records a number of items including test results, engine starts and vehicle run times. Any violations, for example failed tests or missed retests, are recorded by the device.

Are Ignition Interlocks effective?

Most alcohol impaired driving offenders choose to drive illegally with a suspended or revoked license. An Interlock Program provides a control mechanism to prevent them from driving intoxicated.
The goals of an interlock program are as follows:

  • The primary goal is to protect public safety. This is accomplished by having the driver pass a breath alcohol test before starting their vehicle. Today’s technology makes it virtually impossible to trick or fool the Interlock. The device will prevent the vehicle from starting unless an acceptable breath sample is provided. Studies indicate that less than 2% of offenders are re-arrested for alcohol-impaired driving while on an Interlock Program. In nearly every case the offender was driving a vehicle without an Interlock.
  • A second goal is to prevent recidivism, the re-arrest of an offender who has completed an Interlock Program and regained an unrestricted driving privilege. Recent studies indicate that up to 90% of interlock graduates successfully drive without a further drinking-driving offense. This compares very favorably with the 50%+ re-arrest rate of offenders who have not participated in an Interlock Program.

Are there any standards to ensure that ignition interlock devices are accurate and reliable?

Yes, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has established standards for all ignition interlock devices. Independent laboratories test the devices to ensure they meet NHTSA’s strict requirements.

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Does the interlock need periodic service?

Yes, the interlock is usually serviced every 60 days, more frequently if there are any violations. If the device is not serviced as scheduled it will go into lockout and the vehicle will not start. During service appointments, your LifeSafer service provider downloads recorded information from the device. The logged information is then supplied to the authorities for review.

What happens if I forget my routine service appointment?

Several days prior to a service appointment, the service light on the unit starts flashing as a reminder of an upcoming appointment. Also, for several days following the scheduled date the service light will remain steady and a tone will sound as an overdue indication. If you fail to return to the service center within this time frame the interlock device will enter a permanent lockout condition to prevent further operation of the vehicle. Then, the vehicle would have to be towed to the service center or the center personnel would have to perform remote service.

What happens if I fail the breath test?

The interlock will enter a temporary lockout period of a few minutes for the first failed BAC test, and a longer lockout for any subsequent failed BAC test. This permits an opportunity for the alcohol to dissipate from the mouth and for you to consider the reason for the failed BAC test.

What if I use medicine or mouthwash in the morning with an alcohol base?

If you do not allow sufficient time for the alcohol to dissipate from your mouth, FAIL will be registered in the memory. During the training session a caution is emphasized to all participants about the use of mouthwash or other common substances that contain alcohol.

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Can a vehicle be “hot wired” to start without a breath test?

Yes, however the unit will detect that the vehicle has been started without a valid breath test and require a breath sample. If a passing breath test is not given the alarm horn will start honking and a START Violation will be logged into the memory and the interlock will activate early service recall.

Will the interlock turn off my engine?

No, the interlock will never turn off a running vehicle. If a retest is missed, the horn will sound, a violation will be recorded and the device will require early service.

What if my vehicle stalls?

The interlock will allow a restart without a test for two minutes.

If the unit would malfunction, will it shut off my vehicle?

No, the unit has no means of interrupting operation of the vehicle once it is started.

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Can other people operate my vehicle?

Yes, but anyone driving the vehicle will need to use the interlock and you will be responsible for any violations. LifeSafer service providers will train other users of the vehicle at no additional charge.

Can someone else take the test for me to start the vehicle (i.e. “curb service”)?

No, most states have laws that include fines and jail for individuals assisting in the circumvention of an interlock. Additionally, interlocks randomly ask for additional tests while the engine is running. If the retest is not taken or failed, the unit will log a Retest Violation and the alarm horn will honk until the vehicle is turned off. Many states use camera interlocks that take a picture during each test as a measure against this type of circumvention.

Will the requirements to take a “running retest” cause me to take my eyes off the road creating a hazardous situation?

No, when the interlock device signals for a running retest, you have a few minutes to provide the sample or to pull over to the side of the road in a safe area to provide the breath sample. There are no buttons to push; you must only breathe into the unit to complete a breath sample.

What happens when my interlock equipped vehicle needs repair?

You need to contact the service center prior to having service conducted on your vehicle in the event that the repair shop has questions about the interlock. Documentation must be provided if the power to the vehicle is interrupted as the unit will record the power disconnect and the reconnect.

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Will the unit lose all memory if the battery is disconnected?

No, the unit has a back up lithium battery to protect the data log in memory.

Can the device be tampered with by computer?

No, proprietary software and a special interface connection is needed to communicate with the device.

Will the interlock damage my vehicle wiring?

No, LifeSafer service providers are experienced in vehicle wiring. They will professionally install the system and when the device is removed the vehicle wiring will be securely restored.

What happens if I am out of state and experience problems with my unit?

Most states currently have interlock programs in which service centers can assist you. You will need to contact your primary service center to be routed to the closest center for assistance.

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If I get stranded and I think it is the unit causing a problem is there anything I can do?

The unit can self diagnose problems and you will be able to confirm if the unit is having problems by the condition of the service light. Remote service is available for such emergencies.

Can someone use a balloon or other air source to mimic human breath?

No, currently available devices have anti-circumvention techniques, such as voice-tone monitoring, which cause the interlock to abort artificial breath samples.

Can I leave my car running outside of a bar, drink inside and then drive away?

No, the unit will randomly ask for breath tests while the vehicle is running, if a sample is not given when requested, the device logs a Retest Violation and the alarm horn starts to honk until the vehicle is shut off.

Do you have bilingual service?

Yes. Service, training, materials, and technical support are offered in both English and Spanish.

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