How Do “Smart Start” Interlock Devices Work?

Pennsylvania makes ignition interlock devices (IIDs) mandatory for repeat DUI offenders. In addition, individuals with high blood alcohol content (BAC) are required to have an IID even if it is their first DUI conviction. The state also makes it mandatory to have an IID installed if you refuse a chemical test.

If you are eligible to obtain an Ignition Interlock Limited License, you must have an IID installed by a licensed vendor in Pennsylvania. The license allows you to operate a motor vehicle when your driving privileges are suspended for driving under the influence. Drivers who had their driving privileges fully revoked are not eligible.

How Do I Use a Smart Start Ignition Interlock Device?

“Smart Start” is a type of ignition interlock device. An ignition interlock device requires you to blow into the machine before the vehicle starts. You are also required to blow into the machine periodically, so you may need to pull over to a safe location several times during a lengthy trip to provide additional breath samples. 

The IID prevents the car from starting until you provide a negative breath test. The device tests your breath to determine whether you have alcohol on your breath. Any alcohol registers as a positive result.

What Happens if the Smart Start Breath Test is Positive?

If the device detects a positive sample, your car will not start. The system logs the failed attempt and prevents you from starting your vehicle for a prescribed time period. 

A positive sample does not cause the engine to shut down during operation. Instead, the system logs the positive result. Likewise, the system logs the violation if you fail to provide a sample while driving.

Any attempts to bypass the Smart Start IID will be recorded. As a result, you will likely lose your Ignition Interlock Limited License for tampering or bypassing the system. In addition, the court could impose other penalties.

Can an Ignition Interlock Device Read a False Positive?

You should have your IID calibrated and checked regularly. The machine should notify you when to calibrate the system, or the vendor will instruct you regarding the maintenance schedule. If the Smart Start device is incorrectly calibrated, it could provide inaccurate readings.

IID manufacturers claim that the devices can distinguish between alcoholic beverages and other substances. However, there are instances where drivers report being unable to start their cars because they ate specific foods or used mouthwash and the IID registered a false positive.

Unfortunately, an IID cannot distinguish between alcohol and a false positive. It will prevent you from starting the vehicle and log a failed attempt, even if you have not had any alcohol to drink.

Common products that can cause false positives include:

  • Mouthwash
  • Cough syrup
  • Vanilla products, including ice cream
  • Breath mints
  • Some cigarettes and tobacco products
  • Fermented food products
  • Toothpaste
  • Hand sanitizer applied before using the handset
  • Citrus products and food

It is wise to follow the manufacturer’s warnings and instructions regarding using an ignition interlock device. It could help prevent false positives for a Smart Start ignition interlock device.

If you believe the reading was a false positive, you can rinse your mouth thoroughly with water and blow again after the lockout period ends. In addition, a passing test could help confirm that the previous breath test was a false positive.

Who Pays the Cost of a Smart Start Ignition Interlock Device in Pennsylvania?

The cost varies depending on the provider you choose. However, you must choose a vendor approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

The average lease for an IID is between $800 to $1,200. In addition to the lease payment, you must pay to install the IID in your vehicle. Also, you are responsible for the monthly monitoring fee, periodic service fees, and removal costs.

You must have an IID in each motor vehicle you own, lease, or drive. Therefore, you could be responsible for the cost of multiple Smart Start devices. 

What Should I Do If I Am Arrested for DUI in West Chester, PA?

A drunk driving charge can result in severe penalties. A first-time DUI conviction could result in up to six months of probation and a $300 fine for a general impairment conviction. If you are convicted of a high or highest BAC offense, you could serve up to six months in jail and pay a fine of $500 to $5,000.

High and highest BAC convictions result in loss of driving privileges for one year for a first-time DUI conviction. Therefore, you would need to pay for an IID if you wanted to drive during your suspension period.

Working with an experienced West Chester DUI lawyer is the best way to fight drunk driving charges.

Contact Our DUI Law Firm in West Chester, PA

If you are facing criminal charges and need legal help, contact the West Chester, PA DUI lawyers at DiCindioLaw, LLC to schedule a free initial consultation.

DiCindio Law, LLC
29 S Walnut St
West Chester, PA 19382
(610) 430-3535

***This blog article is made available by the law firm publisher for educational purposes and to provide general information, not to provide specific legal advice. By reading, you understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and the publisher. The above listed information does not include the entire crimes code, annotations, amendments or any recent changes that may be relevant. The information provided is for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments. These materials are not intended, and should not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances. Please contact DiCindio Law, LLC for a consultation and to discuss what law is relevant to your case. ***