Fool an Ignition Interlock with Activated Charcoal? … Seriously?

They’re still at it: drinkers who consider an ignition interlock not a safety device, but a challenge. You might have heard people boast how they can “beat” an ignition interlock through one devious trick or another. The only problem is, it’s just a boast – the tricks don’t work.

Activated-Charcoal-Can't-Fool-An-InterlockUp to now you might have heard about using balloons, having a friend blow into it, or tampering with wires. None will fool an ignition interlock, and all of them could get you in serious trouble.

Here’s one that we haven’t covered: activated charcoal. Supposedly, you blow through a tube full of the stuff it will “scrub” the alcohol from your breath, allowing you to start your car with an ignition interlock.

Activated charcoal is carbon which has been put through a process which gives it many micro-pores, so it is extremely absorbent. The term came into the common vocabulary through cigarette ads that advertised charcoal filters for removing harmful substances from the smoke.

So, what happens when you try this trick? If you were to blow through a charcoal-filled tube, the carbon might clean up some alcohol. But could it lower breath alcohol enough to give you the very low BAC reading you need to pass an ignition interlock test? Absolutely not. In addition, interlocks require users to hum or suck as well, to prove that a human is taking the test. The charcoal would interfere with that. And in states that require a camera with the interlock, you’d be busted.

Little wonder a company that sells the tubes bills them as “For Novelty Use Only.”

The strange thing is, there is a way to pass an ignition interlock test every time, and it doesn’t require a lot of effort. Just refrain from drinking before getting behind the wheel, and the “PASS” light will flash on and let you start your car. No charcoal needed.