Interlock Device Installation: Everything You Need to Know

Feb 15, 2017

If you have been ordered by a court to install an interlock device for a DUI, you may have some questions about the interlock device installation process. For example, do you need to install the device yourself? Do you need to have any special equipment in your car or do anything to prepare your car for installation? And will the interlock device affect your car’s performance in any way?  How much will the ignition interlock device cost?

In this post, we’ll go over these questions and more as we discuss everything you need to know about interlock device installation. But first, let’s recap what an interlock device is, the purpose it serves, and why you might be required to install one in the first place.

What is an Ignition Interlock Device?

An ignition interlock device is a breathalyzer that is installed into your vehicle to be used to monitor your blood alcohol level. If you have an interlock device installed, you will need to submit to a breath test before you can start your car each and every time you drive. You will also be required to take a rolling retest after you start the car to make sure you haven’t had anything to drink after your initial test.

The interlock device will put your car on lockdown if you were to fail a test. You would then need to wait a predetermined amount of time before you can retake the breath test. The interlock device, therefore, acts as a safety measure to make sure you don’t drink and drive.

Why Would an Interlock Device be Installed in Your Car?

Typically, an interlock device is required in the instance of a DUI. Your state may require you to install an interlock device to allow you to continue driving so you can go to work, school, or manage family obligations. The agreement is that the state will allow you to keep your license and allow you to drive under these special circumstances as long as you don’t drink and drive.

Now that you know the “what” and the “why,” let’s get into the “how” an interlock device is installed in your car.

How Do You Install an Interlock Device?

You will need to have your interlock device installed at a service center by a certified interlock device provider. You will have to schedule an appointment with your provider either online or via phone and bring in your car at the designated date and time. Where you can have your interlock device installed may depend on the make and model of your car, so you will need to verify that with your provider when you make your appointment.

It’s important to have your interlock device professionally installed to make sure your device works properly, and also because you will be required to come back in for recalibration at set intervals, as decided during your arraignment. There are actually laws in place that prohibit the participant of the program to install or remove their own device, so you are legally obligated to have it professionally installed at a service center. There is really no way around it.  

What Happens During the Installation Process?

When you bring in your car to have your interlock device installed, a technician will install the device for you. However, before you leave, the technician will give you some hands-on training on how to use your device.  

This training period is mandatory, as you often will not be able to leave the service center until you demonstrate that you can successfully perform the interlock device breath test two or three times. The testing process is easy and should only take a few minutes, so this should not be cause for concern.

You may also be required to watch a short training video that gives you further information about your interlock device, including what different messages on the device mean, what the difference sounds indicate, etc. You will also likely be given a training and operation manual that you can use for reference should you need it.

Can You Install Your Interlock Device Yourself?

No. As mentioned above, you are legally required to have your interlock device installed by a professional at a certified provider’s service center. This device will be monitored for the period of time set in your agreement, and any attempt to disconnect or tamper with your device will be logged in the database, and result in an alarm, service call, or total vehicle lockou

How Long Does an Interlock Device Installation Take?

Typically, the interlock installation will only take about an hour or two. However, this depends on your vehicle’s make and model, as certain cars will take longer than others, and some will require certain customizations. You will need to make sure your provider is certified to install the interlock device on your specific vehicle.

You also need to allow for a little extra time for the required training that goes along with the installation of your interlock device, so you will need to make sure you block off enough time from your obligations to meet these requirements. Usually, a couple hours will be all that is needed.

Where Should You Have Your Interlock Device Installed?

The only legal requirement for your interlock device is that you have it installed by a certified, professional provider. However, you should consider where your provider is located, as well as if they are able to install the device on your particular make and model of car. Your provider’s service center should ideally be conveniently located to you, as you will need to return consistently for recalibration appointments.

Can an Interlock Device be Installed in an Older Car?

An interlock device can often be installed on older cars, however, the car’s electrical system will need to meet certain minimum standards. Your technician will determine if your car meets these standards during your installation appointment. If your car does not meet these standards, you may need to make adjustments to your car to allow for the device to be installed.

Can You Have the Interlock Device Installed on a Vehicle not Registered to You?

You often can, but you will need to have a notarized letter of permission from the registered owner of the vehicle in order to have the device installed in the car. Often, the owner will have to be present during installation as well.

Do you Need to have Any Work Done to your Car to have an Interlock Device Installed?

Often no, but you may, depending on your vehicle’s make and model and if it meets certain electrical standards. You should take to your provider before you have any work done to your car

What About Regular Repairs to your Car? Will This Interfere with the Device?

It depends on what you are having repaired. You should have your mechanic talk to your provider before doing any work, as disconnecting your car’s ignition could show up as a potential tampering event, which can come with some serious penalties. If this occurs, you will need a receipt to show that it was not a tampering event. Most minor maintenance work will not require a consultation with your provider, but you should always play it safe.

Can You Disconnect Your Battery After Your Interlock Device is Installed?

Just like the question above, you should always consult with your provider before disconnecting your battery, as it may trigger a tampering event. You must always follow set procedures to make sure you are staying legally compliant within your agreement.

Will Your Interlock Device Drain Your Battery?

It shouldn’t, but it can in certain scenarios. Most interlock devices will monitor certain aspects of your vehicle even when the ignition is turned off, which will use a small amount of your battery power. Most will have a “sleep” mode that conserves power, but will still always remain on. If you leave your vehicle unattended or unused for an extended period of time or have an unreliable battery, the interlock device may drain your battery power. Check with your provider’s service center to see what they recommend.

Can the Interlock Device Turn Off Your Vehicle?

No, the interlock device cannot shut off your car once it has been started. If you fail your breath test before you start your car, it will not allow you to start the vehicle for a set amount of time. If you fail a rolling retest, your device will signal an alarm, honk your car horn, or flash the lights until you pull over safely and turn off the ignition yourself. Then, the same procedure follows.

Can Your Interlock Device Damage Your Vehicle?

No. The interlock device is harmless to your vehicle as long as it is properly installed, removed, and serviced by a professional technician. However, if you try to tamper with the device or make any adjustments on your own, you may cause harm to your car. In addition to this being illegal, you may damage your vehicle.

Can you Drive yourself to your Installation Appointment?

It depends. If your driving privileges have been revoked or suspended by the court, someone else with a valid driver’s license will have to drive you to your installation appointment. If not, you will be able to drive yourself.

How do you Remove your Interlock Device?

You don’t! Not on your own anyway. You will have to have your interlock device removed by a professional technician at your service center. The process is easy and does not take long, but you will need to notify your provider in advance and schedule an appointment for removal.

You and your provider will each have your court order to make sure you are having your device removed at the proper time. When you are eligible to remove your device will vary based on your individual case. You can also choose to keep the device in your car on a voluntary basis if you feel you are at risk for drinking and driving.

How Do You Choose an Interlock Device Provider?

Choosing an interlock device provider may be mandated by the court, but most often is up to you to choose, provided that they are a certified provider. Some factors to consider include the location of the provider’s service center, as you will want it to be conveniently located to where you live and/or work, and whether or not the provider has any history of suspensions or decertifications. Some service providers may offer insurance for the lease of the device, which might also be a wise choice.

How to Schedule Ignition Interlock Installation

After you’ve done your homework to find the best interlock provider for your needs, you should give them a call to make an installation appointment or schedule one online. You then simply show up at the scheduled date and time to have your interlock device installed.

Summary

This guide should give you a better idea of what to expect in the interlock device installation process. Should you be required to install an interlock device, Low Cost Interlock offers the most affordable service around. Give us a call today to see if we have a service center near you.

 

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