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Are My Failed Breath Samples Reported to the State?

An ignition interlock device is an effective tool to prevent drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel and putting themselves and others in danger. If you have one of these car breathalyzers installed in your vehicle, you’ll be required to provide a breath sample into the device to start your car. 

How does a car breathalyzer work?

Drivers are required to blow air into the device, which then measures your breath alcohol concentration (BrAC). Sensors within the ignition interlock device will measure the alcohol level of air in your lungs and report a BrAC estimate. If your BrAC is within your state’s legal limits, you will be prompted to start your vehicle, but if the sample provided is over the legal limit, you have failed the test and will not be allowed to start your vehicle.

Are all failed samples recorded?

Many users wonder if every failed sample is recorded. The answer is yes. You are responsible for every breath sample provided, both pass and fail. The consequences for a failed breath sample vary by state. If you are informed about what can happen when you provide a failed sample, you will know what to avoid to prevent the situation from happening. Learn more about your state requirements.

You might be curious to know what happens if user error causes repeated failed recordings. Maybe you failed to record a rolling retest within your allotted time, or what happens if you drop the device while providing a sample? Or what happens if you turn on the device to provide a sample and then don’t provide one. You will be responsible for those failed recordings, even those that weren’t completed or weren’t caused by an over-the-limit BrAC.

Breathalyzers are extremely accurate at measuring your BrAC, false positives can happen but are highly unlikely. Users who experience a false positive typically have triggered it by using a product or food that contains an alcohol. Read more about false positives to avoid any issues.

What happens if my breath sample fails?

As stated above, each state handles failed breath samples differently. If your breath sample doesn’t pass, your car won’t start and several things could happen, depending upon your state’s laws:

  • You may be able to continue providing breath samples until your BrAC is within legal limits and your car starts. (Note: each failed sample will be recorded)
  • Your ignition interlock could go into a temporary lockout, or service lockout, where you may need a service call to gain access to the device. Each state has its own limit on how many failed attempts are allowed before a lockout occurs and which type of lockout will occur.

Reporting requirements also vary by state. It is your responsibility to understand your state’s reporting requirements and the consequences. The following sampling demonstrates the variations in state requirements:

  • Some states require missed and failed tests to be reported to them within seven days, some require reports within three business days and others require submission within two days.
  • Other states require a report of all device activity every 60 days.
  • Certain states are also affected by the county or probation officer that monitors the device.

Nearly every state has its own requirements, so make sure you know the rules you need to follow.

The bottom line is that you are responsible for every breath sample you provide to your ignition interlock device, and all activity is recorded. Learn more about understanding how to use your device and visit your state laws page.



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