7 FAQs About Ignition Interlock Breathalyzers in Arizona

Flagstaff Arizona Ignition Interlock Device

Ignition Interlock Device – What is it and how does it affect your daily life?

Ignition Interlock Device Flagstaff Arizona

If you are like the vast majority of people in Arizona, you depend on your car for transportation to work, picking up your kids, running errands, traveling to enjoy the great Arizona outdoors on the weekends, and other basic necessities in your life. If you find yourself charged with a DUI, one of the many punishments the Arizona Motor Vehicle Division and/or courts can order is an ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle. To sum it up, it’s a major inconvenience, drain on your wallet, and is often embarrassing for people because it is a constant visible reminder of the mistake of driving under the influence.

Spring is here and before we know it summer temps with all the outdoor activities and opportunities to connect socially with friends and family will be back and local law enforcement knows it. Before you get behind the wheel after a day or night of drinking, and avoid driving by any cops, think about how your decisions will impact you and your family should you end up with your first DUI or an extreme DUI. So, here’s our snapshot into life with an ignition interlock device – what it is and how it affects your daily life. 

What is an Ignition Interlock Device?

If you are convicted of Driving Under the Influence, having an ignition interlock device (“IID”) installed in your car may be a condition of probation ordered by the judge. 

When you are found guilty of violating the laws designed to keep everyone safe on the roads, there are consequences and many judges want extra assurance that you will not be able to drive your vehicle after drinking alcohol for an extended period of time. 

An IID requires a driver to blow into a mouthpiece to test their Breath Alcohol Concentration (BrAC) before they can start a vehicle. It’s essentially a car breathalyzer that is hooked up to the ignition of your car and if it detects alcohol on your breath you will be prevented from operating your car.  

The monitoring agency of the interlock device sets the threshold for the BrAC at .02, so if you blow into it and your BrAC is over that you will be stuck in your driveway, parking lot, side of the road, or wherever you are until your BrAC comes down from that elevated state and it’s determined you are safe to control your car. 

The interlock device retains and transmits data from the tests and any violations to the department and you will face administrative sanctions through the MVD and criminal court penalties for violating your probation. 

The interlock device may also require you to submit additional breath samples at random times while the engine is running. 

Ignition Interlock Device Flagstaff AZ

The Interlock Process

The interlock process typically starts when you have been charged with DUI. You will have both a criminal court and administrative case through the Motor Vehicle Division (“MVD”).  While each is totally independent of the other, there is often some overlap in requirements. 

Here’s how the interlock process works:

  1. You are convicted of DUI and the judge orders it as a condition of your probation. The MVD may also require it as a condition for reinstatement of your license. 
  2. Interlock installation is required within a specific amount of time and it’s on you to make the appointment to get it installed in your car. 
  3. You must go to a MVD-authorized company and provide proof of installation. 
  4. You take your car to the IID monitoring agency and they install it in your vehicle. You are required to pay all installation and monitoring fees, including any removal fee once the time for having it installed has elapsed. 
  5. Your record will be marked at the MVD that you are required to have an interlock system installed in your car so that if you are stopped by police they will verify if you have it as required. 
  6. If you are pulled over by the police and found to not have an ignition interlock installed in your vehicle you can be found in violation of your probation and face jail time and other penalties in the courts and also administrative sanctions through the Arizona MVD. This could result in consequences like a suspended/revoked license and additional fines.  

Disadvantages of an Ignition Interlock Device

Ignition interlock is NOT something you want to deal with. They are often embarrassing for people because they are visible in their cars. Anyone who is a passenger will see it and witness you blowing into it to start your car as well as at random times while the engine is already running as required by the device. Arizona requires it be installed in your dashboard, along with a camera and GPS. They are expensive, there are often false positives, and they are just a pain to deal with every single day for an extended period of time. Want to know what it’s really like living with a DUI breathalyzer in your car? Read on!

IIDs are expensive

DUIs are expensive and the car breathalyzer cost is hefty. We wrote previously about what a DUI costs in Arizona, and an interlock breathalyzer is just one of many costs you will face. The breathalyzer installation cost is typically $70 to $150 to install it in a car and then the monthly monitoring and breathalyzer calibration fees are between $60-$80 per month. 

Continuous retesting

In addition to requiring you to exhale into the ignition breathalyzer before starting your car, the device will also require the driver to provide more breath samples at random times. If a sample is not provided or it exceeds the BrAC level, the device will log the event as a violation, warn the driver, and continue to request another sample until a passing one is provided. Violations include:

  1. 2 samples over the limit at any time if over 21 years of age or 1 sample over the limit if under 21.
  2. 3 missed retests during a drive cycle.
  3. Missing a scheduled 77-90 day calibration appointment.
  4. Tampering or circumventing the device.
  5. Disconnecting or removing a device early.

Be cautious of what you eat & drink

Intoxicating beverages (beer, wine, liquor, etc.) are the main cause of a positive test result, but alcohols found in other consumer products, food, and beverages can cause false positives as well. Here’s a list of examples:

  • Ethanol: energy drinks, flavorings, and extracts (vanilla, almond, lemon, peppermint, etc.), foods prepared with beer, wine, liquor (cooking may not remove 100%), vinegar. Consumer products such as mouthwash and breath sprays, prescription medications, and hand sanitizers. 
  • Methanol: consumer products like adhesives, air fresheners, disinfectants, glass cleaners, pesticides, windshield washer fluids, etc.
  • Propanol: energy drinks and extracts like mentioned above. Consumer products like art supplies, colognes and perfumes, lotions, nail polishes, shampoos, and soaps. 
  • Isopropanol: energy drinks and extracts like mentioned above and soft drinks. Consumer products like aftershave, lotions, household cleaners, insect repellents, rubbing alcohol, sunscreen, veterinary antiseptic and medical sprays, glass cleaners, and pre-moistened towelettes. 

It takes valuable time out of your day

You have to take time out of your day to make an appointment, get it installed, and then once installed, the interlock system must be calibrated and inspected by a certified installer every 77-90 days. If the device detects any tampering, circumvention, or malfunction, you will be called back to the service center prior to your routinely scheduled 77-90 day appointment. In addition, every time you go to start your car, you need to factor in the time it takes to blow into the ignition breathalyzer before driving down the road to work, picking up your kids from school, or running errands. 

Ignition Interlock Device in Arizona FAQs

Getting an interlock device is annoying to say the least, so here are some common questions and answers to help you if you’ve been ordered to get one. Contact our Flagstaff law office if you don’t see your question answered below.

How do you trick an alcohol interlock?

Getting around an interlock for your ignition isn’t easy and is not advisable. However, there are some myths associated with how to do so. Here are some rumors.

  1. Blowing alcohol-free breath into the apparatus using a balloon.
  2. Allowing a buddy to blow a fresh breath into the apparatus.
  3. Disconnecting the device’s wires.
  4. A penny is being sucked on.
  5. Consuming mints or chewing gum
  6. A filter is being blown through.

How much is an ignition interlock device in AZ?

An ignition interlock will cost you between $70 and $100 per month, on average, to lease in the state of Arizona.

Where do I get interlock installation in Arizona?

Interlocks must be installed by MVD-approved companies. Find approved company websites and phone numbers here for service availability and rates in your part of Arizona.

A qualified installer must calibrate and check the interlock device every 77 to 90 days. If the gadget detects tampering, circumvention, or malfunction, you may be summoned into the service center early.

Non-compliant drivers may have their interlock duration extended by the MVD. In certain situations, they may lose driving privileges.

All newly installed, moved, or replaced devices must include a camera, GPS, and real-time reporting as per ARS 28-1462 and A.A.C. R17-5-604, effective July 2018.

Flagstaff AZ Ignition Interlock Device


The best course of action is to not drink and drive, but of course, we understand that mistakes happen. The state of Arizona has some of the strictest drunk driving laws in the country, and one of the harshest penalties that can be imposed is having an ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle for an extended period of time. Do not face the criminal court system and the administrative MVD system alone. Our team of lawyers at Antol & Sherman, PC has attorneys at law with the knowledge, experience, and background needed to help you with your DUI charges. Contact our legal team today for a free case consultation with an attorney to discuss the specific facts of your case and how we can help you. Our firm also represents individuals charged with drug crimes.

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