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Ignition Interlock Device Violations: What Do They Mean?

At Intoxalock, we are committed to helping you learn how to use your ignition interlock device so that you can regain your driving privileges and get back on the road. Our devices are easy to use — with the push of a button, you can provide a breath sample and start your vehicle. However, violations can happen, and we want our customers to understand what can cause them.

BrAC Over Threshold

Providing a breath sample that’s over your state’s preset breath alcohol concentration (BrAC) limit results in a failed breath sample and a violation. Your car won’t start, and you’ll have to wait until your BrAC limit is under the legal threshold. Most states require your BrAC to be around .02 for you to start your vehicle with an ignition interlock device.  

Lock out — Failed Start

If you’ve already provided one failing breath test and provide another sample that fails, you could get locked out of your device.

Lock out — missed random retest. To ensure drivers remain sober while they drive, you must provide breath samples while you operate your vehicle. These retests happen at random intervals while you drive. If you do not provide a breath sample during a random retest, your car may flash its lights and possibly honk its horn until you provide a sample. You could be locked out from the device if you do not provide a breath sample.

Lock out – Failed Random Retest

If you complete the random retest, but the device detects alcohol it will issue a failed message. The device will not simply stop your vehicle while in traffic – this is a common misconception about ignition interlock devices.

What will happen is that your device may activate your horn, or flash lights, or issue you another warning that you need to pull your car over to the side of the road. Once safely on the side of the road, you may be able to submit a new breath sample. If you don’t pass the retest, your vehicle can go into a lock out.


Drivers who attempt to circumvent the device by tampering with it will end up with a violation. There’s no way to circumvent the device, and if you attempt it, you will receive a violation. Tampering with your device could also lead to more severe penalties, including fines and increased time with an ignition interlock device. Read more what happens if you tamper with your device.

Violation Penalties

Each state handles violations differently. If you don’t provide a passing breath sample, you might be able to continue providing breath samples until your BrAC is within your state’s limit to start your car. However, your device might go into a temporary or service lockout, where you may need a service call to gain access to the device. Each state has its own limit of how many failed breath samples you can provide before being locked out.  

Reporting Violations

Every violation you have is recorded and reported to your monitoring authority. Each state has its own reporting process, and it can vary depending upon which device you’re required to have installed in your vehicle.

Here are a few examples:

  • Some devices are capable of reporting violations in real time. Intoxalock compliancy experts review violations and report them to your state and/or monitoring authority as necessary.
  • During device calibrations, which you’re required to do every 30–120 days, data is downloaded from the device and reviewed. The compliancy team reviews the data and reports violations to your monitoring authority as necessary. The level of monitoring depends on each state’s regulations.

If you provide a failed breath sample, experience a lock out or have questions about how to use your device, Intoxalock customer support is available 24/7 to help you. Call (833) 623-0200 for help with your device or your account.

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