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Ignition interlock devices and cold weather

Originally published Nov. 8, 2018, updated Dec. 20, 2019.

Intoxalock ignition interlocks are easy-to-use devices. With the push of one button, you can provide a breath sample, allowing the device to measure the amount of present alcohol molecules, if any, and determine if you can start your car. The devices are designed to withstand temperature fluctuations while being stored in your vehicle. However, extremely cold and hot weather can impact your device and car battery. Let’s walk through some tips to help protect both during extremely cold weather.

Preventive maintenance and vehicle care

Caring for your battery

Extremely cold weather is hard on all vehicles. Have a mechanic service your car before winter to identify any problems that may surface. Ask for them to test your battery load to ensure it’s capable of holding a charge during extremely cold temperatures, and have them check your alternator to ensure that it is in excellent condition.

Pick a good parking spot

If possible, park your car inside a garage, carport, parking garage or other place that provides protection from the wind to avoid even lower temperatures. If you park outside during daylight, point the windshield toward the sun. The sun will help warm up the windshield, dashboard and front seat more quickly.

Use a windshield barrier

When parking your car overnight, for several hours or during periods of snow or ice, use an additional barrier such as black snow guard, or frost guard. You can also use a large, dark shower curtain, table cloth or sheet to cover your clean windshield. This additional barrier prevents ice and snow from collecting on your windshield, which helps your car to warm up naturally and much faster than waiting for the snow and ice to thaw.

Download our fact sheet: Vehicle and IID Weatherization for Extreme Cold

Device care for cold weather

1. Insulate and elevate your ignition interlock device

Providing insultation around your device provides even more protection. Use an oven mitt, a thick towel, a thick wool sock, a mitten or a glove for an extra barrier. Make sure whatever you use fits snuggly around the device, providing as much warmth as possible. After you insulate the device, store it upside down in your cup holder, console, or passenger seat to keep moisture from collecting inside.

You will also want to keep it off the floor, away from where it’s colder, to keep it away from dirt and debris your shoes track in. A cup holder, dashboard or center console are ideal storage locations.

2. Allow a few extra minutes

Before attempting to activate the device, blow warm air into it. You will also want to wake up the device a few minutes before providing your breath sample. These extra few minutes will help it operate more smoothly in extremely cold temperatures. You can also take the mouthpiece inside when your vehicle is parked.

3. Start your car daily

Even if you aren’t driving anywhere for a few days, such as over the holidays, start your car once a day if you can. This will help your device and even your car, as leaving it sit for multiple days during extreme weather without starting it can lead to car trouble.

4. Enable Intoxalock Sleep Mode

One of the best things you can do to help protect your battery is to use Sleep mode if your car is going to sit for two more hours in cold weather. The process is simple:

    • Press and hold the button on the device for three beeps before you shut off your vehicle.
    • Release after the third beep. Your device is now in Sleep Mode and will remain in that mode until you press the activation button the next time you provide a breath sample.

Sleep Mode is an exclusive Intoxalock feature to help maintain your car battery in extreme temperatures, if approved by your state. This mode will turn off your ignition interlock device’s internal heathers, preventing battery drain. Because the heaters turn off in Sleep Mode, allow a little extra time for your device to warm up the next time you activate it.

5. Avoid these tricks

Sometimes people get creative trying to warm up their device, but remember to be patient. The tips above will help warm up the device. Never try any of the following:

    • Do not disconnect the device and bring it inside (unless you live in Minnesota and are approved to do so by your monitoring authority). A disconnection will register a power interruption and may be reported as a tampering violation.
    • Do not pour hot liquid down the air tube.
    • Do not attempt to use a microwave or other invasive heating process to warm your device.

Using your Intoxalock ignition interlock device in colder climates requires extra care, much like your car does. With these few tricks, you’ll have a successful winter driving with your ignition interlock device.

If you need information about installing an Intoxalock ignition interlock device, call our state specialists at (833) 623-0200.



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