Originally posted on 10/25/18, updated 10/11/2019.
The Intoxalock device is easy to use, and your technician will go over how it works when they install it. However, there are simple procedures you should follow to avoid getting locked out of your device.
A device lockout happens if you don’t follow the proper procedure, and it prevents you from starting your car. It can be frustrating, but once you know and understand when lockouts occur and why, you should be able to avoid getting stranded.
Two Types of Ignition Interlock Device Lockouts
Lockouts are state-mandated functions that prevent you from starting your car, and there are two main types:
1. Temporary lockout
When your device is temporarily locked, it will start a countdown of several minutes. Once the timer runs out, you’ll be able to re-submit a breath sample. If the breath sample is clean, you will be able to start the car.
2. Service lockout
With a service lockout, the device will show a countdown lasting several days. When this happens, you need to log into “MyAccount” to reset your device or call Intoxalock to order a new one. Once the countdown expires, you’ll need a new device in order to start your vehicle. Several situations can cause a lockout, and each state’s monitoring authority has its own laws regarding what triggers a lockout, how long your device will be locked and if you need the device serviced. Your state specialist can help you if you’re unsure what to do. You should also read up on common reasons for lockouts, and tips to avoid one in the future!
What Can Trigger a False Positive?
Ignition interlock technology is extremely accurate at measuring all sources of alcohol that can be found in your system. If you’ve consumed any products or foods, such as mouthwash or food extracts, with alcohol, the IID will measure it in your breath sample, which could trigger a failed breath sample. Users are responsible for learning what items might cause a false positive, as all failed breath samples will be reported — even the false positives. Learn more about false positives, what can cause them and solutions to prevent them.
1. Failed breath sample
This is the most common cause of lockouts. If you blow into the device and provide a sample with a breath alcohol concentration (BrAC) above what’s allowed in your state, it will be read as failed and you won’t be able to start your car. Depending upon your state’s laws, you may need to provide a sample within the legal limit to start the car again. If you have too many failed attempts, your device could go into a temporary or service lockout. Each state has its own limit on how many failed attempts you can have before a lockout. If you need help operating your ignition interlock, learn how to use your device.
2. Missed calibration
Car breathalyzers need to be calibrated every 30 to 180 days, depending on requirements in your state. These calibrations ensure the device works properly and can get an accurate BrAC reading. To calibrate your Intoxalock, make an appointment to visit your nearest service center on or before the date your calibration is due. The calibration takes only a few minutes. If you don’t get your device calibrated, you risk a service lockout, where you may need to tow your vehicle to a service center to get it running again. Learn more about how to calibrate your device.
3. Tampering with the interlock device
You may have heard the fraudulent claim that you can tamper with or bypass your breathalyzer to start your vehicle without providing a breath sample. These claims are simply myths, and tampering will only result in you being locked out of the device and unable to start your car. Ignition interlock technology has evolved and is extremely effective at catching any potential tampering. If your BrAC is over the threshold, the only solution is to wait until you’re sober. Many states require cameras to be mounted in the vehicle to ensure the correct person is blowing into the device, and having a friend take your test is considered tampering.
4. Missing a retest
Sometimes drivers think that if they can’t provide a clean breath sample to initially start their car, they can have a friend provide one instead. However, you are subject to random retests while driving, where you must blow into the device at random intervals while driving. These retests ensure you don’t consume alcohol while you’re driving and prevent someone else from blowing into the device to start the vehicle. If you fail a random test, your vehicle will not shut off, but it may go into a lockout when you turn your car off.
5. Incorrectly perform vehicle maintenance
Since you’ll have the device for several months, it’s likely you will need to have maintenance done while it’s in your car. If you don’t notify Intoxalock of the scheduled service appointment for the car's maintenance, or if the mechanic isn’t aware that you have a breathalyzer installed, you could be locked out of your device.
Properly reporting any maintenance beforehand will help resolve any potential lockouts far more easily. You can report your scheduled vehicle maintenance in the Intoxalock Mobile App by going to “Report Vehicle Maintenance” section. When making your mechanic appointment, you should notify them about your Intoxalock device. If the mechanic needs technical support, they can call (833) 623-0200.
For more information on what to do during a lockout, watch our lockout user video.
If you need assistance with a lockout, log in to the Intoxalock Mobile App to see if your state allows you to reset the lockout remotely. If the “reset lockout” option isn’t available, our customer support team is available 24/7 to help.