Can I Test Drive Another Car if I Have an Ignition Interlock Requirement?

test-drive-car-without-ignition-interlockThe  consequences of drunk driving don’t stop when the fine is paid and the jail door swings open. A DUI on your record stays for years, affecting your job prospects and finances. And if you are ordered to install an ignition interlock, you must obey the law and keep it in your vehicle for the time specified. And of course, you must not drive a vehicle that doesn’t have the device. An ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer, prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking.

In Graham County, Arizona a man was stopped recently for having a burned-out license plate light on his car. The officer noticed that the car didn’t have an ignition interlock, despite the driver being required to use one. The driver’s excuse was that he was testing out the car before buying it.

That was enough to get the man arrested. Whether or not it was true is not important.

If you are using an interlock, you might wonder: can I test drive a car I’m intending to buy? The answer is no. Some other questions that sometimes crop up on the Internet or at the interlock installation shop:

  • My car is in the shop. Can I borrow a friend’s for a few days?
  • My wife needs my car because she’s going on a trip and can’t fit all her stuff in hers. Can we switch for a week?
  • I need to rent a van to pick up a sofa. Is that permitted?

The answer to all of these is no. States that have interlock laws do not make exceptions for cases like this. The only exception you will find is employee’s vehicles: some states (though not others) will allow an offender who normally must use an ignition interlock to operate a company vehicle without one.

The ignition interlock is a safety device which has been found to be effective in reducing recidivism in DUI cases. It is very effective at keeping drunk drivers off the roads, but it only works because it’s installed 24/7, in every vehicle that an offender drives. Any exception is an invitation to a relapse, an arrest, and possibly a lethal crash.

When you have your ignition interlock, you are trained in the operation of the device, and you should also be acquainted with the laws and regulations that apply to its use. One of the most important is never to drive a vehicle without a device until your interlock period is over. The police just won’t buy your excuse.