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Intoxalock vs. Smartstart: How Two IID Providers Compare

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Features SmartStart Logo Intoxalock Logo
Device Design
  • Full numerical keypad, similar to an older cell phone model
  • Screen requires you to read it while testing, so you would need to look at the device while retesting and may need to pull over
  • One button
  • No need to look at device while driving to operate or retest
  • Sleep mode - Intoxalock devices have internal heaters, but you can put them in sleep mode if needed so they won’t draw power from your car
Blow Pattern
  • Device uses blow-hum-blow pattern. This is difficult and distracting for many and can lead to lockouts
  • Simple blow-inhale-blow pattern that’s easy to master and perform even while driving
  • More than 2,000 locations, roughly only half of the locations Intoxalock has
  • More than 5,000 locations, more installation centers than any other provider, with 91 percent of customers within 15 miles of a location
  • Pricing info varies by state, and you must call to get the info for your state
  • $2.50 a day, with an optional device protection plan for $10 a month
  • Intoxalock offers bi-monthly payment options too
  • Customer support available 24/7 in multiple languages
  • Educational materials can be accessed in the Intoxalock Mobile app and customers can pay their bill and manage their account there too!

Comparing Intoxalock and Smartstart: Design

All Intoxalock devices and IIDs are designed with one-button, to make it easy for drivers to test even while driving. This simple design enables them to power up, blow, and test using the without having to look down or pull over to read the screen. The possible options are pass or fail, and the device will not allow the driver to start the car until they pass. The device does give a grace period for re-tests if drivers prefer to pull over instead, however.

Smartstart devices, unlike Intoxalock, also have a possible result of a “warn” rating. This can mean that your test showed the presence of alcohol, but is below the failure level. This sometimes results in failed re-tests during the trip, which can be inconvenient for drivers.

Intoxalock vs. Smartstart: Blow Pattern

Intoxalock devices have a universal blow pattern, no matter where the user is.

Smart Start devices have a numerical keypad and the blow pattern varies by state. Generally, they use the blow-hum-blow method, which requires users to have their lips sealed around the mouthpiece while creating this pattern. This is difficult for many to achieve and can lead to warnings and failures.

Intoxalock devices employ a blow-inhale-blow pattern, which is considered the simplest one on the market today. All drivers need to do is insert the mouthpiece and blow, inhale deeply, then blow again without removing the mouthpiece. Many drivers find it simple enough that they can retest while driving, though they can pull over if they prefer.

Location Comparison: Smartstart vs. Intoxalock

New ignition interlock users may not be aware, but in addition to installation, you must visit a certified technician regularly for calibration of your device. If you miss one of these appointments, it may impact your suspension period. It varies by state, but devices typically need to be calibrated every 30-60 days. Thus, having a location nearby can make things vastly more convenient for drivers.

With more than 5,000 certified installers, Intoxalock has the most authorized installation locations of any provider. This is great for customers because they can find a convenient shop and not have to travel a long way for regular maintenance. Ninety-one percent of Intoxalock customers live within 15 miles of their closest installation provider.

Smartstart has only about half the number of installation providers as Intoxalock does, so customers may need to travel a bit farther to find one. They do have a high number of international locations, which are included in their total number of 2,000 centers.

Intoxalock vs. Smartstart: Pricing and Payment

All ignition interlock devices are leased, not purchased outright. The technology for each device is too pricey for the average consumer, and the devices cost thousands of dollars each. Intoxalock leases devices for $2.50-$3.50 per day, and offers an option Device Protection Plan for an additional $10 a month. This protection plan covers the cost of a replacement device if your device malfunctions, is stolen, or is damaged in a natural disaster. Intoxalock allows users to pay via an app or mail in checks.

Intoxalock also allows for flexible payment options, giving customers the option to pay bi-weekly if that works better for them.

Smartstart interlock does not publicly list pricing for their devices, but their site mentions that pricing varies by state. Users must call them to discuss their options and pricing is determined individually. This requires additional research on the customer’s part, but Smartstart does allow them to pay bi-weekly also.

Intoxalock vs. Smartstart: Support

Intoxalock has 24/7/365 customer support available from state specialists. They can be reached via chat, email, or phone and will help guide drivers through the process in their state. They can answer any questions about using the device, or help drivers make an appointment or payment.

Smartstart interlock also offers 24/7/365 customer support in multiple languages. They do not have a chat function however - users must email or call for support.