Interlock Facts and Myths


Did you know that car breathalyzer readings are not affected by perfume, cologne or spicy food? Or that ignition interlocks will not affect the performance of a well-maintained vehicle? There are many myths and common questions out there about Oregon alcohol interlock devices; here’s the truth.

Myth: A car breathalyzer device will drain the car’s battery. 
Fact: A car with a properly functioning electrical system won’t be affected by ignition interlocks. Smart Start of Oregon’s SSI-1000, SSI-20/20 & SSI-20/30 ignition interlocks draw less than one-fourth of an amp when not in operation and just one-half of an amp when preparing for a test. An Oregon alcohol interlock device won’t drain the battery to the point where it will not start unless the car isn’t started for approximately 10 consecutive days. If the car’s electrical system isn’t functioning properly, the period will be shorter, but the vehicle would have battery problems with or without a car breathalyzer.

Myth: Spicy food will cause ignition interlocks to fail.
Fact: If you eat spicy food, it does mix with HCL in the stomach to create methane gas, which will create a false positive with non-alcohol-specific ignition interlocks. A person can resolve this situation quickly, though, with antacids and water. However, Smart Start uses only alcohol-specific fuel-cell ignition interlocks, so eating spicy food will never cause the unit to fail.

Myth: Cigarette smoke or snuff will cause a car breathalyzer to fail.
Fact: Taking a few deep breaths before blowing into an Oregon alcohol interlock device will prevent this problem, but with Smart Start, you don’t even have to do that. Our alcohol-specific ignition interlocks are unaffected by smokers. However, smoke should never be blown directly into any unit.

Myth: Gasoline fumes will cause ignition interlocks to fail.
Fact: Normal refueling at the gas station won’t cause a car breathalyzer to fail. The alcohol-specific Oregon alcohol interlock used by Smart Start of Oregon will not react to gasoline fumes even in high concentrations.

Myth: Perfume, hairspray, aftershave or cologne will cause ignition interlocks to fail. Fact: Many products such as perfume and cologne contain alcohol, but these substances will not cause ignition interlocks to fail.

Myth: Mouthwash or breath spray will cause ignition interlocks to fail.Fact: Many mouthwashes and breath sprays contain as much as 30 percent alcohol and will definitely react as alcohol in all ignition interlocks. If you are using an Oregon alcohol interlock, we recommend using non-alcoholic mouthwash. If you use mouthwash containing alcohol, you should rinse your mouth with water and wait 15 minutes before using any car breathalyzer.

As one of the many benefits of being a Smart Start client, you will be instructed to always rinse your mouth out with water before each and every test.

Myth: Chocolate mints, Altoids and gum can cause ignition interlocks to fail. Fact: Candy, mints and gum will not affect the operation of your car breathalyzer. Alcohol-filled chocolates will register a fail if a test is taken immediately after eating; however, the alcohol in the chocolate will dissipate in three minutes.

Myth: Cinnamon rolls, doughnuts and other pastries will cause ignition interlocks to fail.
Fact: Sugar and yeast found in pastries can combine to create a low alcohol level that may prompt an Oregon alcohol interlock to fail. However, just like mouthwash, the alcohol will dissipate in a short period of time and you can complete a successful test. Always rinsing your mouth with water after eating and before using the Oregon alcohol interlock will eliminate this problem.

Myth: A car breathalyzer will fail for no reason and prevent the vehicle from starting.Fact: Most failures are caused by improperly blowing into the Oregon alcohol interlock. If the device consistently fails, simply make an appointment by contacting Smart Start at 1-888-368-2889 for a solution.

Myth: Ignition interlocks will cause a vehicle to stop running in traffic.
Fact: An Oregon alcohol interlock will prevent a vehicle from starting if the driver doesn’t pass a breath test, but has no way to shut down the engine of a car that’s already running. The Oregon alcohol interlock’s only interaction with the vehicle is to send a signal to the starter for the vehicle to start once the initial test is passed. If a “rolling retest” is failed or not taken, the device simply records a violation.

Myth: Just one beer, glass of wine or cocktail will cause the car breathalyzer to prevent the car from starting.
Fact: An average person will pass the test if just one drink is consumed an hour or more before starting the vehicle. People typically metabolize one ounce of alcohol per hour. However, size, gender and several other factors play a role in determining how quickly an individual absorbs alcohol. There is no single formula that can be used to determine how much you can drink and successfully use ignition interlocks.

Myth: A vehicle equipped with an Oregon alcohol interlock can be started without performing a breath test.
Fact: A vehicle with a car breathalyzer can only be started without performing a breath test if someone deliberately tampers with the unit. However, this will be recorded by the device as a violation.

Myth: The “rolling retests” required once the vehicle is in motion are dangerous. 
Fact: The device will prompt you to perform a rolling retest five to 15 minutes after the vehicle is started and randomly throughout the trip. A rolling retest can be performed safely without requiring you to ever take your eyes off the road. You have six minutes after the prompt to perform the rolling retest, so if you are more comfortable pulling off the road before performing the test, you certainly can do so.

Myth: Ignition interlocks are not very accurate.
Fact: All ignition interlocks meet NTHSA specifications for accuracy and dependability. A properly calibrated car breathalyzer is accurate enough to determine the presence of alcohol and its concentration. Because the test is unsupervised, ignition interlocks cannot be used to legally determine whether a driver is intoxicated, but ignition interlocks use the same technology employed by police officers investigating drunk driving cases.

Your Oregon alcohol interlock will be examined and calibrated during your monthly appointments at any convenient Smart Start of Oregon location.

Myth:  Ignition interlocks cost too much.
Fact: SSI-1000, SSI-20/20 & SSI-20/30 ignition interlocks from Smart Start of Oregon costs about $2.50 per day. Although this cost is paid by you, it is a very affordable and convenient alternative to having your vehicle impounded, asking friends for rides, paying to ride the bus or any of the hassles that come from not having your own car when you need it.

Contact Smart Start of Oregon today to schedule your installation appointment and get back on the road!

Request an Appointment

To use CAPTCHA, you need Really Simple CAPTCHA plugin installed.

Go Top