Interlock Basics


Even with an ignition interlock device in their vehicle, few people understand their options to drive and work their way back to unrestricted driving privileges. If the DMV determines that you are eligible for an ignition interlock device, Monitech can explain your options so that you can get back on the road.

Let’s start with a basic explanation of an ignition interlock device.

How do interlocks work?
The ignition interlock device interrupts the signal from the ignition to the starter until a valid breath sample is provided that meets minimal alcohol guidelines. At that point, the vehicle can be started as normal. Upon vehicle start-up and each time it’s turned off during the day, the interlock participant must complete a standing test, which, in addition to a valid breath sample, includes a “learned” timing, coordination and dexterity test. Random “running” retests are required as the participant is driving, but do not include the “learned” test sequence.
How long will it take to install?
Please reserve two hours for your ignition interlock installation. Varying vehicle types may require more or less time. Of course, many other steps besides the actual installation must take place during the installation appointment. The technician will inspect your vehicle, identify probable interlock location and connector points, configure the device to conform to specific adjudication requirements and train you in the use of the interlock. The technician will carefully explain the device and its functions as well as complete all necessary paperwork with you. You should take this opportunity to ask any and all questions you have about your ignition interlock device and the rules of the program.
Where is the device located in the vehicle?
This decision is made in your consultation upon arrival at the service center, although the final decision must rest with the technician to guarantee the utmost safety and security. Under normal circumstances, the ignition interlock will be installed through the dash or console.
Can a device shut off a running vehicle?
The interlock interrupts the ignition signal to the starter motor before startup and, as such, cannot turn the vehicle off but only prevent the vehicle from starting—even if malfunctioning. If a random running retest is failed, the ignition interlock will sound an alarm and allow the driver time to find a safe place to pull over and turn the vehicle off. The device then requires the driver to perform a standing retest, and if passed, will allow the vehicle to resume operation. If the BAC fail is excessive, the driver will be required to bring the vehicle back to a Monitech service center within 72 hours. Those are the interlock basics.
Can someone else drive my vehicle?
The interlock program participant is responsible for any BAC violation level of alcohol detected by the ignition interlock or missed test and should be especially cautious when allowing another person to use the interlock vehicle. Any person using the interlock vehicle should be carefully trained and observed by the interlock participant each time prior to vehicle use. As a convenience to the interlock participant, the interlock vehicle may be driven to a service appointment by another person who has been carefully trained. If violations are discovered during the monitoring appointment, the interlock participant is required to return to the service center within 72 hours. This requirement is necessary in order for the interlock participant to respond to the violation report prior to the delivery of the report to the adjudicating agency.

Ok, I’m ready to go. Now what?

Installing your Monitech system.
You should call Monitech at (800) 521-4246 or click on “Book Install Online” at the bottom of the page as soon as possible to schedule your appointment. Please have the following information and documents handy when you call Monitech:

  • Driver’s license number
  • Full name as shown on the license
  • Home address
  • Home telephone number
  • Work telephone number
  • Date of birth
  • Agency ordering interlock (DMV hearing officer, judge, or voluntary)
  • Year, make and model of vehicle
  • Pen and paper to take notes concerning your appointment

Installation and training will take one to two hours. We’ll give you a user’s manual and a demonstration interlock with which to practice and learn the interlock basics. A technician will be available to go through the manual with you and to assist in learning the testing technique. You may also download the User’s Manual from this website. You will be able to practice and ask questions for as long as is necessary for you to feel comfortable with the system.

Monitoring your Monitech system.
Every two months, you’ll need to return to your Monitech Service Center for a monitoring appointment. At that time, a technician will download data from your interlock device, which has continuously recorded drive time of the vehicle, BAC (blood alcohol content) results for each test, any attempted circumvention and any test failures. Certain violations of the test procedure will initiate early recall to the service center and possible revocation. Monitoring appointments usually last between 15 to 20 minutes. Please try to arrive on time, since many other clients will also have appointments on this day. If you will be more than 10 minutes late or need to reschedule your appointment, please contact Monitech at (800) 521-4246. At your monitoring visit, you’ll be expected to pay for the next two months’ lease fees as well as any outstanding balances for service calls, etc. Payment may be made by cash, personal check, Visa or MasterCard.
If your Monitech system needs service.
If service is needed, you can drive your vehicle to the nearest Monitech Service Center. If the vehicle cannot be driven, you may elect to have it towed (at your expense) to the service center instead of dispatching a service technician to your home or other vehicle location. Please note that when a technician is dispatched to a location outside of a service center, mileage charges and service fees may apply. A technician will download all information from the control module, which will inform him of the reason for the difficulty. If the defect is covered by warranty, there will be no charge for this service. If the issue is not warranty related, then standard service fees will apply. At the time of service, payment will be collected. Payment may be made by cash, personal check, Visa or MasterCard.
What if I have questions about my device?
Monitech has a toll-free customer service line (800) 521-4246 that is available during normal business hours to answer questions and to assist you with any difficulties you may have with the operation of your interlock system. If the vehicle will start, but you are still having difficulties with the interlock device, an appointment may be made for you to drive the vehicle to the nearest Monitech Service Center for service. In the rare case that there is a defect in the ignition interlock, there will be no charge for this service.
Teaming up to keep roads safe
At Monitech, we’re committed first and foremost to highway safety. That’s why we work closely with state agencies, law enforcement and the courts to supply and maintain BAIID systems that meet or exceed existing standards and that are reliable. Monitech engineers are at work constantly to improve our products to meet and often exceed the latest national and state standards and specifications. So, whether you’re a customer of ours or an enforcement official, you can have confidence that every Monitech system is the best available.
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