So you got busted for DUI (should’ve called me) and now you’ve got to blow into this dopey little box every time you want to start your car. Sometimes the car starts screaming at you to blow into the device while you’re already traveling. Sometimes it tells you that you “violated” a rule, like you’re a child getting sent to the principal’s office.
Welcome to life with an IID – an ignition interlock device.
According to a widely used ignition interlock device (IID) company called Smart Start, a violation report may mean that the device found alcohol on your breath, but it could also mean several other things, such as you missed one of your previous tests, the IID was tampered with, or the device is faulty.
Therefore, when you have followed all necessary rules and did not drink alcohol before breathing into the IID, you may be shocked to see it go against your probation and cause the car to go into violation lockout mode, leaving you stranded and not knowing what to do. However, this is more common than you think when it comes to reliability and providing accurate violation reports.
A quick reminder about how IIDs work
When a person is convicted of drinking and driving, the goal of the IID is to prevent them from driving under the influence again. You are required to have a company install the device into your car, and it tests your breath before you can turn on or begin operating the vehicle. If the IID senses alcohol on your breath, it will not allow you to start the car. You may also be required to blow into the device while driving, which can cause the car to shut off if it senses alcohol.
But the machines aren’t perfect, and they can record violations that don’t exist, or mistake their own flaws for a violation on your behalf.
How are IID violation reports wrong?
When an individual is stopped by a law enforcement officer for possibly drinking and driving, they may be asked to take a portable breath test to determine if they have consumed any alcohol and how much. The IID basically does the same thing, except it is installed into your vehicle and can cause the car to cut off at any time. Just like the portable breathalyzers, there are a lot of issues with IIDs as they are extremely sensitive, causing them to issue false violation reports.
How you can cause an IID violation that isn’t a violation
Most of the time, this is due to other things on your breath, such as:
- Mouthwash: When an individual has an IID installed in their vehicle, they are typically advised to rinse their mouth thoroughly after using mouthwash and wait 15 minutes. The reason for this is because most mouthwash brands contain alcohol, which is easily picked up by IIDs. However, it is easy to be in a rush and forget to rinse your mouth before making your way to your vehicle. Unfortunately, this can lead to a wrong violation report.
- Spicy seasonings: Many people enjoy putting spicy seasonings and sauces on their foods, but this is a quick way to get a wrong violation report. Therefore, if you decide to try out a new Mexican restaurant in town, you may find yourself stuck in the parking lot with a false positive reading on your IID. The reason that this tends to happen is because spicy seasonings and sauces can create a methane gas in your stomach, which causes the IID to believe that you have alcohol in your system.
- Donuts, honeybuns, cinnamon rolls, or other sweets: Any product that contains sugar and yeast can cause an IID to give a wrong violation report. The reason for this is because yeast and sugar are both used in alcohol, causing the IID to think that you have alcohol on your breath. Rinsing your mouth and drinking water after eating sweets can reduce your chances of receiving a false positive, but it is common to forget to do this.
- Diabetic acetone build-up: When an individual is diabetic, they typically have high levels of acetone from the body’s fat-burning process. This can lead to an IID violation report that is wrong due to the IID being under the impression that the acetone is alcohol.
How the IID can cause a violation on its own
While it is common for individuals to experience wrong violation reports because of something they ate, the device may also be damaged, faulty, or defective. This can happen for a variety of different reasons including:
- Electrical problems: IID problems occur when the device or car is not getting sufficient power. This is one of the most frequently reported issues with IIDs as it can happen when a vehicle is old, outdated, and worn down.
- Flooding: It is important that you ensure that the IID does not get wet. It is an electronic device that should never have anything spilled on it. However, if your vehicle becomes flooded, this may be unavoidable.
- A previous car accident: IIDs can become broken and damaged quickly in a car accident. This typically causes them to not be able to accurately perform like they are supposed to. Therefore, if you have been in a car accident, it is recommended that you replace your IID immediately.
- The device needs to be serviced: Most IIDs will let you know if it is time for them to be serviced. This is typically once every month. But if the device malfunctions before its regular service and it doesn’t tell you, you can get pinged. (Note: in this case, if you were supposed to get it serviced and you didn’t, that’s a real violation.)
- Testing tube build-up: Small particles from your breath or car, such as food or dust, can get inside the test tube and build up, which can cause the device to provide wrong violation reports.
At Drew Cochran Attorney at Law, I take wrong IID violation reports very seriously and aggressively advocate for my clients’ rights. I do not think that anyone who follows the rules set for them deserves to be on probation longer or even go to jail because an ignition interlock device was wrong. That said, I will help you determine why your device gave a wrong violation report and explain how exactly this happened to the judge. If you are ready to get started with the process, please do not hesitate to fill out the contact form today. I am ready and available to assist you at my office locations in Annapolis or Ellicott City.
And remember: Keep Calm – and Call Drew.