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How does an ignition interlock work?

The consequences of driving under the influence can vary in different locations and depending on the circumstances under which authorities levied the allegations. From license suspension to jail time, the effects of a DUI could considerably impact your life. Of course, a conviction for charges must come about before you face sentencing for those charges, and while you may understand possible consequences, you may wish to learn more about particular ones.

For instance, if convicted of DUI, the court may require you to install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle. While you may know that this device requires a breath sample before the vehicle starts, you may not know additional details about how the device works and what actions it performs.

Measuring alcohol content

As mentioned, after installing an interlock device on your vehicle, you must provide a breath sample. Much like a Breathalyzer test, the device uses the sample to measure the amount of alcohol detected in your system. The device will have a preprogrammed level of acceptable alcohol content amount, and if your sample exceeds that amount, the device will keep the vehicle from starting.

If the device detects alcohol, you must wait a certain period of time before providing another sample. The interlock will lengthen the amount of wait time for each unacceptable sample provided in a given time.


Once your vehicle starts, you may think that you now have the ability to operate your vehicle without worry. However, the device may signal that you need to take a re-test while your vehicle is in motion. In the event that your sample goes over the acceptable level, the interlock will attempt to get you to stop the vehicle by flashing the lights and blowing the horn.

You may wonder why you would have to submit to another test, but this action takes place to ensure that you did not consume alcohol after starting the vehicle.

Information use

The device keeps records of your alcohol content levels after each test and will periodically send that information to the appropriate parties associated with your case. The information could play a role in whether additional actions need to occur in relation to addressing the penalties you face.

If you have charges for DUI brought against you, you have the right to defend against the allegations. Creating a meaningful defense may help you work toward avoiding having to use an interlock device or other possible outcomes.

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