Why is the Legal Drinking Age 21-Years-Old?

Many U.S. citizens know that the legal drinking age for alcohol is 21. It seems odd at first, considering you can vote, enlist in the military or even adopt a child in some states at 18. So why is the minimum drinking age 21?

The Minimum Drinking Age Act

There was a time where many states had a minimum drinking age range that was between 18 to 21-years-old. In 1984 when Congress passed the Minimum Drinking Age Act, all states gradually began to raise their legal drinking ages to 21.

By 1990, all states were enacting this law. The Minimum Drinking Age Act says that if states do not raise their legal drinking age to 21, they lose eight percent of their federal highway funds.

How Did the Law Change to 21-Years-Old?

The history of how this law came to be can be traced back as far as the Prohibition era. In short, however, with the passing of the 26th Amendment in 1970 that lowered the voting age from 21 to 18, some states followed suit with their minimum drinking age, and lowered that to 18 as well. Other states kept their drinking age between 18 to 21-years old.

Studies were soon after published, showing an increase in vehicle fatalities that correlated with the states’ minimum drinking ages. In 1984, the Minimum Drinking Age Act was written with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD)’s support.

Multiple studies, including a 2010 report from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), have concluded that there are reductions in traffic fatalities since the enactment of the Minimum Drinking Age Act. On MADD’s website at the time, traffic reports were showing a 62 percent decrease in alcohol fatalities among teen drivers.

Another measure that keeps our roads safe are mandatory Ignition Interlock laws for all DUI offenses.

Mandatory Ignition Interlock laws see a reduction in traffic fatalities and lowers recidivism in repeat offenders. With the many safety measures we have in the U.S., such as the legal drinking age and mandatory Ignition Interlock laws, we can only see a safer future on our roads.

Need an Ignition Interlock?

Smart Start can provide a reliable device, an affordable program and 24/7/365 customer service. Call our Customer Care Center today at (800) 831-3299 or fill out our short online form.

Self-Help Groups Can Help Provide Lifelong Recovery from Alcohol

After a DUI conviction or arrest, you may have been referred to a local support group such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). If you choose to, attending these self-help organizations can support your recovery process.

Local Self-Help Groups

If you are still a participant or recent graduate in DUI court, or on probation, local self-help groups can continue maintaining your recovery goals in addition to your mandated requirements from a DUI.

Jose Montoya, a former Smart Start Ignition Interlock client, completely transformed his life after years of alcohol abuse. He not only changed his life for the better, but he sought to change others’ lives who were going through the same struggles that he did.

Jose’s organization, The Mountain Star Rehabilitation Foundation (MSRF), is in El Paso, Texas. MSRF is a non-profit organization that assists DWI Court Treatment and Intervention Program graduates and their families with the right support to a lifelong recovery from alcohol.

Although MSRF is in El Paso and provides support for local DWI Court Program graduates, there are many support organizations throughout the U.S. with the same mission as MSRF’s. In fact, there are numerous choices people can turn to so they can maintain their recovery that include organizations, agencies, support groups and hotlines.

Ignition Interlocks

A DUI-related requirement can include an Ignition Interlock, which physically stops someone from starting their vehicle if they’re too intoxicated to drive. Although it is a requirement, these devices can provide accountability and help abstain from the decision to abuse alcohol. In fact, after your DUI case requirements have been met, you can continue to keep your device on a voluntary basis.

With tools, supervision, treatment and local resources to reach out to such as self-help groups, a person can truly turn their life around for the better.

Need an Ignition Interlock?

Smart Start can get you back on the road safely if you must install an Ignition Interlock to meet court and/or state DUI requirements. We also offer a voluntary Ignition Interlock program to those who want to hold themselves accountable while driving. To schedule an installation appointment or for more information, call Smart Start at (800) 831-3299 or fill out our short online form.

Avoid a DUI, Don’t Drink and Drive During 2018 Super Bowl Weekend

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is saying that fans don’t let fans drive drunk on February 4, 2018. Why? As any big football fan would know, that’s the day when the 2018 Super Bowl Sunday game is between the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots.

Drunk Driving and Football Games in the U.S.

Usually with celebratory times comes many rounds of drinks. And according to a recent national study, the number one reason that individuals get behind the wheel drunk is because they believe they are OK to drive.

In fact, Super Bowl weekend is just as dangerous as other holidays given the number of drunk driving arrests and injuries or deaths that occur.

In 2016, 10,497 lives were taken because of motor vehicle crashes involving a drunk driver. Of those fatalities, 67 percent were in crashes where at least one driver had a BrAC of .15, which is almost twice the legal limit. Drunk driving-related deaths have gone up for the second subsequent year in a row according to most recent data.

During Super Bowl Sunday in 2016, over one third of all U.S. traffic deaths involve drunk drivers. Smart Start is with NHTSA in wanting to tackle the drunk driving issue and urge everyone to stay safe.


Plan Ahead for 2018 Super Bowl Weekend

Make a game plan before Super Bowl night so you already know how you’re getting home safe and sober. Download a ridesharing app on your phone (like Lyft) or designate a driver from your group to make sure you, and everyone else, get home OK. You can also use alternative transportation depending on where you live with a taxi or other public transits.

If you do suspect someone is driving impaired, don’t hesitate to safely call 911 and report the driver.

If you’re hosting a Super Bowl party, be a responsible host! Have plenty of food and non-alcoholic drinks to serve. In addition, make sure your guests are OK to drive before they leave.

Having a pre-determined plan will avoid the dangerous decision to drink and drive.

Need an Ignition Interlock?

Get back on the road with Smart Start’s Ignition Interlock. We will provide any current discounts or specials in our area, a reliable customer support team and a quick, dependable device. Call our Customer Care Center today at (800) 831-3299 or fill out our short online form.

When Do I Need an Ignition Interlock in Texas?

In Texas, you may need an Ignition Interlock upon a DWI conviction. Texas is an all-offender Ignition Interlock state, which means you’ll most likely need an Ignition Interlock whether it is a first or repeat offense. However, the decision for an Ignition Interlock requirement in Texas is up to the judge in your county of conviction. The judge can make this decision based on several factors such as your type of condition, number of offenses, and more.

As of January 2018, here are the different cases based on your condition where an Ignition Interlock is mandatory in Texas.

Condition of Bond with a DWI Conviction

Offense NumberIgnition Interlock Requirement?
FirstJudge’s Discretion
.15 BAC or HigherJudge’s Discretion

Condition of Bond with Intoxication Assault or Intoxication Manslaughter Conviction

Offense NumberIgnition Interlock Requirement?


Condition of Probation with a DWI Conviction

Offense NumberIgnition Interlock Requirement?
FirstJudge’s Discretion
.15 BAC or HigherYes
SubsequentYes, not less than 50 percent of your supervision period


Probation Condition with Intoxication Assault or Intoxication Manslaughter Conviction

Offense NumberIgnition Interlock Requirement?
FirstJudge’s Discretion
.15 BAC or HigherYes
SubsequentYes, not less than 50 percent of your supervision period

Occupational License Restriction
If your license is suspended due to a DWI offense, you may be eligible to apply for an Interlock-restricted, or occupational, license. To be eligible, you need insurance (SR-22), pay a $10 license fee to the Department of Public Safety (DPS), and install your Ignition Interlock on all vehicles you operate. Keep in mind that you must apply for your occupational license 15 days after arrest.

Offense NumberIgnition Interlock Requirement?
SubsequentYes, not less than 50 percent of your supervision period


If you are a minor and placed on probation, a judge will most likely order you an Ignition Interlock.

When Do I Install an Ignition Interlock?

For condition of bond, you’ll need to obtain your device before the 30th day after the date you were released on bond. For probation, you’ll need your device before the 30th day after your conviction.

How Long Will I Need an Ignition Interlock in Texas?

Since Texas is a Judicial Ignition Interlock state, the decision for how long you’ll need your Ignition Interlock is up to your judge. However, usually first DWI offenses with a BAC of .08 or higher need an Ignition Interlock between 90 days to one year. For second offenses, it can be between 180 days to two years. Subsequent offenses can be between one to two years.

Smart Start is the ultimate Ignition Interlock provider in Texas with the most service locations state-wide. If you have any questions about your Ignition Interlock requirements or your Smart Start program, you can call our team at (800) 831-3299.

Need an Ignition Interlock in Texas?

Smart Start is a Texas born and raised vendor with a reliable device, more than 100 locations and local customer service that’s 24/7/365. To schedule an installation appointment, call us today at (800) 831-3299 or fill out our short online form.

I Need Ignition Interlock Financial Assistance in Mississippi!

If you must use an Ignition Interlock because of a DUI conviction or non-adjudication, but you don’t know if you can cover the device’s costs, the state may be able to assist with their indigent fund if you are eligible. If you need Ignition Interlock financial assistance in Mississippi, the state can offset some program costs related to your device.

Mississippi’s Ignition Interlock Indigent Fund

The court ultimately determines whether you are eligible for the indigent program. Mississippi has an Interlock Device fund set aside for indigent individuals to assist them.

If the funds are available, the state can pay up to $50 for installation costs, and up to $50 for the removal cost. The state can also provide up to $30 monthly for verified active use of the Ignition Interlock, such as your calibration appointments. Keep in mind that this indigent fund from the state is available for one vehicle per individual.

How Do I Apply for Eligibility to Mississippi’s Ignition Interlock Indigent Fund?

The fastest way to apply for eligibility to the state’s indigent fund is to ask your contact from your court. The court will provide you a signed order stating that you are declared indigent to the judge.

You may need to pay a state fee of $50 for the Interlock Device fund for persons convicted of DUI, unless you are determined to be indigent by the court. If it’s non-adjudication, you may need to pay a $250 fee.

Need an Ignition Interlock in Mississippi?

Smart Start can get you back on the road with a reliable Ignition Interlock in Mississippi. As the number one provider worldwide, we provide quick breath tests, 24/7/365 customer service and an affordable Ignition Interlock program. In fact, Smart Start Mississippi offers a FREE installation for new Ignition Interlock clients!* Call our Customer Care Center today at (800) 831-3299 or fill out our short online form to schedule an installation appointment.

*This special is current as of January 31, 2018. Ask your Customer Care Center agent about any current state specials when you schedule your appointment.

NEWS: MADD Continues to Support All-Offender Ignition Interlock Law

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) just released their annual Report to the Nation highlighting its campaign to eliminate drunk driving and is recommending all states have strong Ignition Interlock laws.

MADD considers Ignition Interlocks one of the biggest strategies to eliminate drunk driving. Ignition Interlocks are devices installed in vehicles that can physically prevent drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel. When the user takes a test, the Ignition Interlock will prevent the vehicle from starting based on the user’s breath alcohol concentration (BrAC) level.

Four-Prong Approach to Eliminate Drunk Driving

The 2018 report says that drunk driving deaths increased for the second subsequent year in a row (2015 and 2016) in the U.S., and MADD suggests a four-pronged approach to combat this alarming increase:

  • Support law enforcement and high-visibility crackdowns
    • In recent years, law enforcement funding was reduced. Some states even considered eliminating sobriety checkpoints because of the limited funding. In the report, however, it says that studies show sobriety checkpoints reduce drunk driving crashes by 20 percent.
  • Pass laws requiring Ignition Interlocks for all drunk driving offenders
  • Advocate for advanced vehicle technology
    • Advanced vehicle technology such as self-driving cars can eliminate drunk driving once and for all, but is still in development.
  • Grow public support
    • Public support is another key component. Without volunteers, public advertisements, grassroots efforts and those who spread awareness otherwise on the dangers of drunk driving, the current success gained, says MADD, would not be possible.

With these four approaches, MADD says there will be tremendous success across the nation in combating drunk driving.

State-by-State Rating on Drunk Driving Laws

The report also addresses each state’s rating to measure the success of MADD’s campaign. The states are judged based on these types of laws:

  • Ignition Interlocks
  • Sobriety Checkpoints
  • Administrative License Revocation
  • Child Endangerment
  • Alcohol Test Refusals

Out of the states, Arizona, Maryland, Mississippi, Nevada and West Virginia had the highest state ratings. The lowest were Michigan and Montana. The national average was 2.92 out of 5.

Ignition Interlock Laws in the U.S.

Currently, 30 states and D.C. have all-offender Ignition Interlock laws in place. If an individual commits a first-time DUI offense, or repeats the offense, an Ignition Interlock will most likely need to be installed in their vehicle. Every state has its own Ignition Interlock laws. A few even make the device mandatory for nearly all alcohol convictions.

Each year, MADD makes it a top legislative priority to enact strong Ignition Interlock laws with compliance-based removal. Smart Start proudly stands with MADD in providing this lifesaving technology, and helping those who need a device to get back on the road safely.

Need an Ignition Interlock?

Smart Start can get you back on the road quickly as the worldwide Ignition Interlock provider. Call our Customer Care Center today at (800) 831-3299 or fill out our online form.

False Positives on Ignition Interlocks?

Court judges rely now more than ever on Ignition Interlock technology. So it may not seem shocking when judges don’t believe individuals who say products like breath mints cause ‘false positives’ on their Ignition Interlocks.

In fact, in a news article related to someone blaming breath mints for a ‘false positive’ on the Ignition Interlock, prosecutors say that an “Ignition Interlock is one of the best ways to protect the community from drunken drivers.”

Breath Mints and False Positive Ignition Interlock Tests?

There’s a misconception with Ignition Interlocks when it comes to someone drinking alcohol and taking a test, versus using a product such as breath mints with alcohol in it and then blowing into the device.

There are no ‘false positives’ from an Ignition Interlock when you consume or use a product that has some alcohol in it. The device is meant to detect alcohol in the user’s breath.

When one uses mouthwash for instance with some alcohol in it, the device will detect this alcohol content from your breath. That is why Smart Start always recommends clients swish their mouths with water. The alcohol from the mouthwash will quickly dissipate from the water, and then they can take their test again. Alcohol in these types of products are much more quick to dissipate versus drinking alcoholic beverages.

In the late 80s and early 90s, Ignition Interlocks were reliable. However, there were still ways for users to bypass or circumvent the device. Now, with state-approved vendors’ devices using alcohol-specific fuel cell-technology, Ignition Interlocks are a dependable, solid tool that stops drunk driving. In fact, as of January 2018, mandatory, all-offender Ignition Interlock laws are present in 30 states and D.C.

If you must use an Ignition Interlock, rest assured that you will have a dependable device. All vendors’ devices that are state-approved must follow current federal standards to ensure a seamless, reliable and easy Ignition Interlock program.

Need an Ignition Interlock?

Choose Smart Start to get you back on the road safely. To schedule an installation appointment, call our Customer Care Center at (800) 831-3299 or fill out our short online form.

I Need Ignition Interlock Financial Assistance in New York!

If you need Ignition Interlock financial assistance in New York because of a DWI conviction, you may be eligible for the state’s affordability program. This program can assist some clients who are qualified with the various costs of an Ignition interlock program, such as installation, monthly fees and/or removal costs.

In New York, the court determines an individual’s eligibility based on affordability. In other states, the regulatory agency of Ignition Interlocks will look at one’s indigency status.

Who is Eligible for Ignition Interlock Financial Assistance in New York?

In New York, clients can only be eligible for the affordability program if they are on conditional discharge or probation.  Those who must use an Ignition Interlock through the New York Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) are not eligible.

How do I apply for Ignition Interlock Financial Assistance in New York?

You may ask the court to waive the installation fee and monthly charges by filling out New York’s Ignition Interlock Financial Disclosure form. This form will ask you to provide your monthly income from wages, personal property, monthly expenses and more. Make sure to fill out your information as accurately as possible so the court can determine your financial status. Once done, take the financial disclosure form and three additional copies to your sentencing court or monitoring authority.

The state suggests applying for New York’s affordability program as soon as possible because you only have 10 days after sentencing to install your Ignition Interlock!

If you are a Smart Start client, you can also call our Customer Care Center at (800) 831-3299 for any questions related to your Ignition Interlock program.

Ignition Interlock Indigent Programs by State Series

Need an Ignition Interlock in New York?

Get back on the road fast with Smart Start, New York’s Ignition Interlock provider. Call our 24/7/365 Customer Care Center at (800) 831-3299 or fill out our short online form to schedule an installation appointment.

Can I Take My Ignition Interlock Inside When It’s Too Cold?

You may be thinking; can I take my Ignition Interlock inside when it’s too cold? The weather right now is cold and harsh in the states, mainly up North, so what happens with your Ignition Interlock when it’s outside in your vehicle?

Smart Start’s Ignition Interlock Program and Cold Weather

Not to worry if you’re with Smart Start! We offer a simple and stress-free Ignition Interlock program for our clients. Since 1992, we’ve been manufacturing Ignition Interlocks that are reliable and sturdy, no matter where you are.

Our devices take only a few minutes to warm up if it is left in the vehicle in freezing temperatures. When the screen displays HEATING when you turn the key or push the button in your vehicle, the device is quickly warming up to be ready for your breath test.

There’s one thing clients can do, however, with their Ignition Interlocks in freezing weather.

Here’s how to avoid the warm-up time with your device before your start your vehicle when the temperature starts dropping.

Take Your Ignition Interlock Inside During Freezing Weather

In nearly all states, you can disconnect your head unit from the curly cord and simply bring the device inside with you. Then, next time when you drive, re-connect the head unit and it will initialize and be ready for you to take your initial breath test immediately before starting your vehicle.

If you’re in Wisconsin or New York, however, you are NOT allowed to disconnect your head unit! As of January 2018, these are the only two states that do not allow clients to disconnect their head units. The device’s warm-up time, however, should only last between three to five minutes.

If you’re a Smart Start client, that means you have 24/7/365 customer service standing by, ready to assist. If you have any questions about your program, simply call our team at (800) 831-3299.

No matter how cold it is outside, Smart Start’s Ignition Interlock is still your dependable tool to getting back on the road.

Do You Need an Ignition Interlock?

Get back on the road quickly with Smart Start. We are a reliable provider with a dependable Ignition Interlock and superior customer service. Schedule an installation appointment with us at (800) 831-3299 or fill out our short online form.

Tips for Early Removal of Ignition Interlock in Colorado

Guest Contributor: Tiftickjian Law Firm

If you are facing a long-term license suspension, you may be eligible for an Ignition Interlock restricted license in Colorado. Reinstatement of your driving privileges with an Ignition Interlock restriction allows you to get on with your life. It also proves to the state that, despite making a mistake, you are still capable of responsible driving.

If you have this Ignition Interlock license, an early removal of your Ignition Interlock in Colorado may be possible. State law provides an opportunity for first-time offenders with low BACs to earn early removal of their Ignition Interlock in Colorado.

Who is Eligible for Early Removal of Ignition Interlock Restriction in Colorado?

Early Ignition Interlock removal in Colorado is available for qualifying first-time offenders. Individuals must be at least twenty-one years old at the time of the violation. The conviction giving rise to the initial license revocation must have been for a first-offense DUI or DUI per se requiring only a nine-month license suspension.

Repeat offenders are not eligible for early Ignition Interlock removal. In addition, first-time offenders designated as persistent drunk drivers due to a refusal or high BAC are not either.

How Does an Eligible First-time Offender Qualify for Early Removal?

First-time offenders in Colorado who receive a nine-month license revocation can apply for license reinstatement with an Ignition Interlock restriction after one month.

If the driver receives four consecutive successful monthly reports after the license is reinstated, they qualify for early removal. However, the DMV can refuse to grant early removal if it has received any evidence that:

  • The driver tampered with their Ignition Interlock
  • Attempted to circumvent its use
  • Submitted a sample that was positive for alcohol with a BAC of 0.025 or greater.

In most cases, the DMV will automatically provide successful first-time offenders with notice of early removal eligibility after receiving the required successful reports from the Ignition Interlock provider.

How Long Does Receiving Eligibility for Early Removal of an Ignition Interlock in Colorado Take?

The short answer is that an eligible first-time offender can earn back an unrestricted license in as few as five months. This means one month of no driving followed by four months of Ignition Interlock. However, it is important to be careful when calculating the time period.

The four-month Ignition Interlock restriction period begins on the date that the license was reinstated with the restrictionnot on the Ignition Interlock install date. The period for successful monthly reports also must include a full 120 days.

So, if the first report did not include an entire month, the 120-day period will run into the fifth month. The DMV must receive reports demonstrating zero failed start attempts over a 120-day period before early removal will be granted.

The DMV will receive all the data it needs to make its determination. There will usually be a one-to-two-week lag period before the DMV reviews the data and issues an eligibility letter.

The restriction officially remains in place until the driver has qualified for AND obtained an unrestricted license. That is, the notice of eligibility provided by the DMV alone does not lift the restriction. Drivers should not remove the Ignition Interlock from a vehicle until they have a re-issued, un-restricted driver’s license. In addition, drivers also shouldn’t operate a vehicle without a device installed.

What if a Driver Doesn’t Receive Notice of Eligibility?

The DMV will automatically send notice of eligibility for early removal to the driver after receiving four monthly reports showing no failed start-up attempts or signs of tampering or circumvention.

A driver who believes he or she is eligible for early removal of their Ignition Interlock, but who has not received an eligibility notice within a few weeks of the fourth successful monthly report, can call the DMV Interlock Department at 303-205-5613 to confirm eligibility.

If denied, a driver has the right to request a hearing to review the driver’s eligibility. At the hearing, the driver will be permitted to present evidence of compliance with the early removal requirements. The DMV will present any evidence of non-compliance.

If you have any questions about qualifying for early removal of Ignition Interlock in Colorado, you should consult with an experienced DUI Law attorney who can guide you through the process and advocate on your behalf if a hearing ever becomes necessary.

Tiftickjian Law FirmTiftickjian Law Firm, Denver DUI Lawyer
Denver DUI Lawyer/Attorney




Need an Ignition Interlock in Colorado?

Smart Start is Colorado’s ultimate Ignition Interlock provider with a reliable device and 24/7/365 customer service. Call our Customer Care Center today at (800) 831-3299 or fill out our online form to set up an installation appointment.