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Top 5 causes of an Intoxalock lockout

Originally posted on 10/25/18, updated 10/11/2019.

Learning how to use your Intoxalock ignition interlock device is easy and quickly becomes part of your driving routine after installation. However, if used improperly, you can get locked out from the device. A lockout is a state-mandated function that will not allow you to start your vehicle. This situation is frustrating, so it’s important to understand the types of lockouts and their common causes so that you don’t find yourself stranded and unable to drive your car. You can experience two types of lockouts.

1. Temporary lockout

In a temporary lockout, your device will set a countdown in minutes. Once the timer has expired, you will be able to start your vehicle by providing a clean breath sample.

2. Service lockout

In a service lockout, your device will start counting down in days. In this situation, you will need to log in to MyAccount to reset your lockout or call Intoxalock to order a new device. Once the countdown on the device expires, you will not be able to start your vehicle until you have a new device.

Download the infographic: Top 5 causes of an ignition interlock device lockout

Lockout Causes

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. The following list has common reasons for and tips to avoid a lockout.

1. Failed breath sample

The most common reason of a lockout is breathing into the device when your breath alcohol concentration (BrAC) is above the legal limit. If you blow into the device and provide a sample that’s over the legal threshold, your ignition interlock device will read the sample as failed, which means you can’t start your car.

Depending upon your state’s laws, you might be unable to start your car until the sample provided is within the legal limit. Or 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.

False Positives

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 types of products and foods 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.

2. Missed calibration

Car breathalyzers need to be calibrated every 30 to 180 days, depending on individual state requirements. 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. However, if you miss a calibration, you can have 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 device

You might have heard one of several myths that instructs you how to tamper with or bypass your breathalyzer to start your vehicle without providing a breath sample. These are simply myths, and if you attempt to tamper with the device, you will be locked out and unable to start your vehicle.

Ignition interlock technology has evolved over the years to become extremely effective at catching any attempts to trick or tamper with the device. Having a friend provide your breath sample is also considered tampering, so it’s important to always provide your own breath sample. 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.  

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

You more than likely will need to perform routine or other car maintenance when you have an ignition interlock device installed 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 might get locked out or your device.

If you do enter a lockout during vehicle maintenance, properly reporting the maintenance beforehand is critical to helping Intoxalock resolve the lockout. You can report your scheduled vehicle maintenance through the Intoxalock Mobile App by going to “Report Vehicle Maintenance” section. You will also need to notify your mechanic before they begin work. If the mechanic needs technical support, they can call (877) 777-5020.

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.



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