Top 6 Ignition Interlock Device Myths Debunked

Smart Start Ignition Interlock Device (IID) the SSI-20/30

My Ignition Interlock Device drained my battery. Spicy food, cigarette smoke and even breath mints are causing my Interlock Device to fail. The Interlock just aborts and I can’t start my vehicle.

Sounds like a nightmare.

At Smart Start, we want your process with us to be as seamless as possible. We would like to help clear the air on some of these Interlock Device rumors floating around.

But first of all, what is an Ignition Interlock Device? Is it a car breathalyzer, a blow and go or an alcohol breath tester? The answer is … it does not really matter – they are all interchangeable terms. Here is the process on how these Interlock devices work:

A Smart Start Interlock is a handheld device that is wired into your car’s ignition system, which prevents the car from starting if you fail a breath test. Failing a test is different for each state, so it is important to make sure you clarify with your monitoring authority what BAC, or BrAC, level the device will issue a violation.

So what kind of products do we have? Smart Start Sets the Standard in Alcohol Monitoring Technology with the SSI 20/20 Ignition Interlock or the SSI 20/30 Ignition Interlock. We also provide alcohol breath testing with our SMART Mobile portable device, wherever you are.

Now let’s get to the myths vs. facts on Interlocks.

Top 6 Interlock Device Rumors Explained

1. Spicy or Mexican food, chocolate, cigarette smoke, perfume, hairspray, cologne and even the gasoline at the gas station causes my Interlock Device to fail.

It’s true. Some items we eat, such as spicy foods, create a false positive test in some Interlocks because of the methane gas created inside us. Rest assured, though – Smart Start only utilizes alcohol-specific, fuel cell technology, so this would not usually occur.

If you are a smoker, we will usually advise taking a few deep breaths before blowing into the Interlock Device – smoke should never be blown into any unit. Normal refueling at the gas station will not create a false positive test, either –gasoline in high concentration will not register enough to be a fail on an alcohol-specific device, such as Smart Start’s.
As for cosmetic products, most perfumes and colognes contain alcohol, but the Interlock will not react to it in heavy concentrations.

Here’s the product that may cause a false positive start in your Ignition Interlock Device: Mouthwash and sprays usually contain up to 30 percent alcohol, so if you are refreshing your breath right before driving, keep this in mind! Here’s a couple of solutions: There is non-alcoholic mouthwash available, but you can also rinse your mouth out very well with water before each and every test. The alcohol from the mouthwash will usually dissipate within 15 minutes, as well.

Unfortunately, some chocolates and mints have alcohol in them – however, the alcohol will usually dissipate in three minutes. You should also rinse your mouth out with water as well.

2.The Interlock just aborts and I can’t start my vehicle.
The majority of all aborts are caused by improperly blowing into the Interlock unit. If the aborts continue, call our 24/7 Smart Start call center for advice and to seek next steps: 800.831.3299.

3. My engine stopped because of the Interlock Device.
Here is the truth on Interlock Devices – they are designed to prevent the vehicle from starting if a breath test is not passed. Only one wire in your vehicle is interrupted during the installation of an Ignition Interlock Device. This wire serves no other purpose than to send the signal to start the vehicle once a test is passed. If you do fail a test while driving, it will simply record the violation – it will never shut down your vehicle.


4. Rolling Retests are dangerous.
Smart Start is built on utmost safety, and is compliant with all the regulations of each state we are located in. We are also federally compliant with the National Traffic Highway Safety Association (NHTSA). Here’s the basics on rolling retests:

The rolling retest is programmed to ask for a test within five to 15 minutes after initial start-up of the vehicle. It will then ask for another test about every 45 minutes on average. Once the unit requests the test, you will have up to six minutes to respond. The test will not require eye contact with the Interlock, and it will give you six minutes to pull over and take the test if you feel more comfortable doing so.

5. My family member, friend, boyfriend or girlfriend blew into my device and was drinking.
Once your interlock is installed at a service center, you sign off on a sheet stating that you are responsible for all tests recorded on the unit.

And here is the most common myth we hear…

6. The Ignition Interlock unit drained the car battery.
The Interlock will not drain the battery to the point where it will not start unless the vehicle has not started for approximately 10 consecutive days. It is highly Smart-Start-Installation-Form-Herounlikely the device would drain your car battery to the point of it not starting – Interlocks draw less than ¼ of an amp when the vehicle is not in operation, and it will draw ½ of an amp when it is preparing for a test.

To put this in perspective, the Interlock causes minimal drain on the battery of a properly functioning vehicle electrical system.




If you have any other questions you’d like to ask, Smart Start is your go-to resource for anything interlock-related.

Need to find a Smart Start location near you? Our installation and service interlock centers are conveniently located throughout the nation with trained, qualified technicians to help.

Just want to chat? Click the red ‘CHAT’ button on the bottom of our site.

Need to call? We offer 24/7 support from our bilingual, knowledgeable and friendly customer care center. Let our team help clarify anything you need at: 800.831.3299.