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Ignition Interlock Stories From The NMA Forums

Posted on March 9th, 2010 in | 4 Comments

Ignition Interlock Stories From The NMA Forums
Since the NMA Forums launched last year, one of the most popular topics of discussion has been ignition interlocks. It becomes clear after reading just a few of these stories that ignition interlock technology is not advanced enough for public use.

Ignition interlocks are designed to prevent people who have been convicted of DUI/DWI from starting their vehicle if they have alcohol on their breath. Despite studies that show that doing so will increase accidents, legislators are increasingly supporting MADD-backed laws that place ignition interlocks in the vehicles of first-time offenders.

Here are just a few of the stories shared in the NMA Forums that show how flaws in current ignition interlock technology are making the lives of people (who have already been punished for their crime) miserable:


While I waited in the waiting room with one of the employees, the IID was being calibrated by another employee. It took about 20 minutes. When he was finished he came out and I paid him. He left the keys in the car and the sample head on the seat with a mouth piece inserted. I had nothing to eat or drink while waiting for my monthly data load. I didn’t use the bathroom or use any gels on my hands. I sat the entire time in a chair with another employee only.

I went to start my car, gave a sample and it failed with a BAC of .06, according to the employee. This time I was there so no one could dispute that I drank NO ALCOHOL and didn’t do ANYTHING wrong. They checked it again. I put a brand new mouthpiece on and blew. It passed. I made them watch me do it.

The very first sample after the data download is a fail because of something that they did. They said that they would make a note of this and that it should be okay with MVA, but I have spoken to them before and they said a fail is a fail, it was not my fault. I called them when I got home to make sure I had the names of each employee correct for my records and asked how on earth could this happen. They said that some of the calibration fluid could have caused this. He wasn’t sure.

Great, now I have to be afraid to get the data downloaded! I am so sick of this device. It makes me think I am going to have a heart attack. During the holidays, the service light drained my battery. I called them and they said that I had to hot shot it to get it started. It started. On the highway, during rush hour, it requested a rolling retest and kept aborting for no reason. The horn went off and my lights started flashing. It continued to request a sample. For 3 miles it did this until finally the sample took and passed. My heart was palpitating.

I drove directly to the shop and just as I arrived, it did it again. They replaced the sample head. This is the 3rd time I have had these “state of the art, undeniably accurate” IIDs replaced. This is not right! This is torture. I haven’t drank, I can’t use my regular hair products. I am petrified to get gas. I wouldn’t wish one of these on my worst enemy.


I have an IID in my car and read your comment and it is exactly what I am going thru. I have had the original one replaced because it was defective for the first four months, and I was frustrated as hell.

This last Saturday I had made a batch of potato salad and put some in a bowl to take to a friend, and I ate what was left on the spoon, and my IID locked out on me. I was so mad that I actually tried to remove the damn thing so I could get going down the road. I have had trouble when I eat biscuits and gravy, pot pies,and certain juices,etc. They don’t give you a book on what not to eat. You can’t even have air freshener in the car.


I have stopped using any kind of drive-thru because, sure enough, the device wants a “rolling retest” while you are at the window. I once slowing rolled into the car in front of me, just tapping her, because I was preoccupied with the device and it’s demand for a blow test.

You may have to learn to change you own oil and enjoy washing your own car again, because try to take you car to an oil change or car wash and expect them to blow into your device (let alone asking them to learn how to do it). It’s not from embarrassment, trust me, I got used to blowing in it in view of other people after a while. It’s just most places like valet parking, car washes, quick oil changes, and such are just off limits because the places don’t want to deal with it.


My fiance and I have had our whole world changed by our association with this company [Intoxalock]… and not for the positive.

I had an I.I.D. requirement and installed it on our shared car. Intoxalock was on the list of authorized I.I.D. providers on the California DMV website. They had a brand new technician and ours was the first device he has ever installed for them. He took over 4 hours to install it and said he didn’t know what he was doing- unquote.

During the installation the horn was blaring and he was cussing while trying to put it in the car- a fairly complex (I’m told by mechanics) newer Cadillac. The car has a delay before it shuts off the battery– so the lights turn off after you have walked away from the car or the radio can play with no key in the car, for e.g. Well, I guess the machine still runs during this time — he didn’t tell us this… couldn’t show us how to breathe into it.. we had no orientation for this thing…

We had episodes of RUNNING blocks back to the car to shut off the device because Rolling Retests would trigger– AFTER waiting the requisite two minute countdown… and we got violations for those!

One night we were asleep in the house and the horn went off in the middle of the night 3-4 hours after we had been inside the house because while we were asleep rolling retests presumably had been triggered after we removed key/locked the car… so eventually the horn was triggered after the machine requested a Rolling Retest again and again… Came out in our pajamas along with other neighbors thinking the car was being stolen and totally baffled. Another violation!

We told Intoxalock and they blamed us “must be partial key forward… (no key in car though..hmmm…)” So, we ended up having to tow the car to the installer’s for a new device $$$$ and guess what’s next? The tow truck driver put the cable on the car wrong and bent our tie bar making it undrivable!

So, we bring it to installer and put in the new device but on a practically undrivable car at installers shop– allignment ruined. Authorized installer advises us to go right to our regular service shop “b/c he can’t fix it there”– doesn’t remove device, doesn’t report the problem to Intoxalock. What he should have done if he was better trained by Intoxalock was to advise us to fix the car BEFORE we put the new device on the car so mechanic wouldn’t accidentally set it off. And this is something no one thinks about on a Friday afternoon dealing with a damaged car and a fresh insurance claim and we are all newbies to this albatross…

So, we drive it as best we can the whole 4 minutes to our regular shop — emergency mode — our only car… manager of our regular shop promises they won’t move the car again at the shop to avoid setting off the machine/needing to blow in it at all — we warned him about device. Tragically, a mechanic does start car while at shop being serviced. Horn goes off and he panics and shuts off battery — doesn’t tell us till we pick it up 3 days later. New device needed AGAIN — we explain on phone what happened — mechanic’s custody, inadvertent. 155 Errors logged. Countless Rolling Retests missed.

Intoxalock takes our order for new device and our $$$ but guess what? They promptly report us to DMV for non-compliance because of the log errors — DMV immediately suspends license for ANOTHER YEAR because Intoxalock says we tampered/bypassed new device.


There are many, many more posts on this topic in the NMA Forums spread across multiple threads. If you’re interested in the topic, or need a place to vent your frustration, register for the forums and share your story. Feel free to post your thoughts in the comments section below as well.

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4 Responses to “Ignition Interlock Stories From The NMA Forums”

  1. Randall1000 says:

    Oh i agree these people should have their license suspended 6 month to a year for the first offense and personally i think it should be revoked after the second, they shouldn't be driving period. I should know, I live in an blue collar area where I pass at least 4 bars and a couple liquor stores on my way to work and my work is only about 8 miles from my house if that. I've seen people swerving home, one time i even had a police officer behind me, i guess he didn't care or didnt see the guy go at least 3 feet over the white line in front of me. The AAC police force has recorded 1400 DUI's this year and we're only 2 1/2 months into the year! That's 20 dui's per day!

  2. Randy100 says:

    This is just another lie from NMA. What can you expect. Oh, they are telling the truth this time but leaving the facts out. Yes the accident rate was up when the ignition interlock was installed. What NMA left out in their statement and was in the actual report was that this could be caused by many that did not get the ignition interlocks installed had a suspended license instead and were not driving. I guess anyone with a brain would realize that if you are not driving you are not going to get credited with any accidents.

    NMA you can do better than these kind of lies.

    • Randall1000 says:

      I don't get what you are saying Randy. What we have here is a flawed device, similar to the toyota recalls, maybe even worse. I don't know the numbers on how many people dont have problems with the IID's or do but if some people are unsafe with this then we all are. This device is just as dangerous as texting and driveing, talking on phone and driving. here you are going down the freeway at 65 mph and the device wants you to blow, what a joke.

    • Randy100 says:

      Randall you are missing the point. No where in this article did it say that people had accidents because of these devices and the report that this article referred to did not either. I have no problem not having these devices. As the report showed people have a lot less accidents when they are not driving at al. If you think people should keep getting a 6 month or 12 month license suspension instead of these devices then I do not have at problem with that. Both of these solutions have shown that people decrease repeat DUIs which in turn reduces accidents and death.




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