How Do Ignition Interlock Devices Work?

Technician hands Ignition Interlock Device to a satisfied customer.

When people hear the words Ignition Interlock Device, it’s not a product that they’d immediately know, like an iPhone or an Amazon Echo. But when an Ignition Interlock Device is a part of your driving reinstatement requirements or a DUI court order, it becomes an important tool to getting you back behind the wheel safely and legally.

As the worldwide leader of Ignition Interlocks, we get it. Things are happening fast, and this device is suddenly your key to fulfilling your DUI case requirements. Let’s go over how Ignition Interlock Devices work so you can start putting this DUI behind you.

What is an Ignition Interlock Device?

To understand how Ignition Interlock Devices work, it’s best to explain what it is and its purpose first.

An Ignition Interlock Device is installed in a motor vehicle and measures the driver’s breath alcohol concentration (BrAC). Users provide their breath sample into the device’s mouthpiece. If a breath sample is provided with alcohol present in the user’s system, the vehicle will not start. The vehicle will only start after a passing breath sample.

Ignition Interlocks prove your sobriety before you start your vehicle with the initial test and then while you are driving with random rolling retests. We’ll go over these different types of tests in a bit.

An Ignition Interlock is your key to getting back on the road, whether you are using one as a requirement or voluntarily. Throughout the years, Ignition Interlocks have proven just how much they curb drunk driving in multiple national and state-wide studies and among national organizations such as MADD and FAAR. There are more and more states every year enacting laws to bolster their Ignition Interlock use in their respective jurisdictions.

To summarize, Ignition Interlock Devices save lives, reduce recidivism, and are the tools that get people back to their lives while safely and legally driving again.

Explaining Ignition Interlock Tests

Part of understanding how Ignition Interlock Devices work is knowing that there are two different types of tests: the initial test and random rolling retests.

  • Initial tests

When you enter your vehicle and place your key in the ignition, or push the start button, you must provide an acceptable breath sample into your Ignition Interlock. You’ll find that, depending on the Interlock provider you chose, there’s specific breathing, humming and/or suck-back patterns you need to fulfill to provide a passing sample into your device. Smart Start will not offer unsanitary breath test patterns like sucking back! Read more about our easy Ignition Interlock test patterns on the blog.

These breath patterns ensure it is an actual person taking the test, preventing ‘workarounds’ or bypassing attempts. With Smart Start, we provide the easiest and most sanitary breath testing patterns.

In any case, initial tests prove you are sober and safe to drive. Upon a passing breath sample, your vehicle will successfully start and you can begin your trip.

  • Random rolling retests

Remember that throughout your drive you’ll need to continue proving your sobriety. That’s why the Ignition Interlock Device will randomly prompt for a breath sample during your trip. These tests are commonly referred to as random rolling retests.

Random rolling retests do NOT shut off your vehicle during your drive. If a random rolling retest is skipped, missed or failed, the consequences differ state by state. However, an Ignition Interlock will never turn off your vehicle as a result.

Smart Start recommends pulling over and parking safely to perform your random rolling retest. Once you provide an acceptable breath sample, you can continue with your drive.

Your Ignition Interlock Requirement

It’s important to maintain compliance with your Ignition Interlock requirement. Not only are you proving to your Interlock oversight authority that you can be a responsible driver, but you are also practicing safer driving for yourself. Many drivers attribute their sobriety and transformed behavior to Ignition Interlocks. The devices can change others’ mindsets about driving, and how important it is to keep themselves and others safe.

If you’re unsure how long you need an Ignition Interlock or when you can schedule a removal appointment with your provider, ask the contact who ordered the device to confirm these dates, such as your probation officer or your driver’s licensing office.

We hope this guide has helped you regarding how Ignition Interlock Devices work. If you are still on the hunt for the right Ignition Interlock Device, look to Smart Start. If you have more questions or would like to learn more, our expert Customer Care Center agents are standing by at all hours ready to help at (800) 831-3299.

Need a Smart Start Ignition Interlock Device?

Get back on the road today with the world’s number one Ignition Interlock provider. We offer next-day or same-day Interlock installation availabilities, many service locations and absolutely no hidden fees! Schedule your installation appointment today by calling (800) 831-3299, fill out our online form or sign-up for the Client Portal, available online or as a mobile app (App Store and Google Play.)