Tag: Ignition Interlock

The world of ignition interlocks comes along with its own set lingo and jargon, which can be pretty frustrating if your device displays a reading you don’t understand or  you have a question for your service provider that you can’t properly put into words. So we’re going to devote our next few posts to decoding the language of the interlocks. We hope this glossary of terms for our QT device comes in handy.

Alarm or Alarm Mode (QT)Alarm Mode occurs due to a failed or missed running test, or other violations such as an unauthorized vehicle start. If the unit enters Alarm Mode, the unit will instruct you to safely pull off the road and turn off your vehicle. Depending on your state’s Interlock Program requirements, during this time, the horn, or siren may sound, and the vehicle hazard lights or headlights may flash. The only way to stop this is to turn off your vehicle.

Appointment Check – This feature allows users to check the date of their next regularly scheduled Monitor Appointment (the appointment made at the last Service Center visit). Changes to your appointment made over the phone or appointments required due to a recall are NOT visible through this feature.

Arrival (Destination) Test – A breath test that may be required when you turn your vehicle off.

Aggressive Mode – If your breath tests (Start or Running) result in alcohol levels in the Warn or Fail range, the frequency of Running Tests you will be required to take will increase for a period of time.

Diminished Lung Capacity – Some interlock users may have difficulty blowing into the interlock due to a legitimate medical condition such as asthma or emphysema. If this condition applies to you, and your state agency allows this feature, your service provider can adjust the interlock to meet your specific Diminished Lung Capacity. See your state DMV or your service provider for more information.

Fail – A breath test result that is equal to or greater than the Fail level set by your state agency.

High Fail – A breath test result that meets or exceeds the definition of a High Fail as set by your state agency.

Hum Tone – As a way to prevent users from bypassing the technology of the device, they are required to hum while blowing into the device for all breath tests. Users are trained on how to do this when their interlock is installed.

Invalid Sample – Any sample that is blown into the unit that is not direct, unaltered human breath is an Invalid Sample.

Catch back up with us next week for the next edition of this glossary of terms.

In our last post, we laid out one of several costs that come along with having an ignition interlock installed in your vehicle other than the monthly fee. You see, in North Carolina, all ignition interlock providers charge about the same per month, right around $75. But there are several other costs that could arise in your time with an ignition interlock.


So we’re laying out these additional costs to help educate those looking for an ignition interlock provider. You deserve to have the best provider for you in terms of cost effectiveness and customer service. Don’t get lulled into choosing just any provider.


Associated Ignition Interlock Costs

Mechanic Override Costs: Let’s say that a few months after  receiving your ignition interlock device, your radiator springs a leak or your engine begins acting up. You wind up having to drop your vehicle off with a mechanic. In order for the mechanic to do work on your vehicle, he’s going to need a way to start the car and test things out without having to take a breath test each time. In order to do this, he’ll need an override code. This code is issued to mechanics by the ignition interlock provider. But it’s not free. The cost for this service varies among providers.


Service Calls: Service calls refer to on-site calls. If you’re having an issue with your device, and you’re unable to start your vehicle, some providers offer an on-site call service. They will send out a team of technicians to come assist you in your specific device issue. They’ll help get you back on the road. But not all providers offer this service.


Towing Service: If your provider does not offer on-site service calls, you’ll have to call a towing service to tow your vehicle to the nearest service center in the event you’re unable to start your vehicle due to an issue with your device.

If you missed Parts 1 and 2 of this series, my name is Bryce Little and I’m the Market Coordinator for Monitech. My job is to educate attorneys and alcohol assessment counselors on ignition interlocks. Over the course of this past year, I’ve received hundreds of questions about ignition interlocks. Now, it would’ve been hard to post every one of them here (See our FAQs page), so I’ve trimmed the list down to the top ten, and I’m answering them all in this three part series. This post is the final in of the series and addresses questions 3-1.

3. Can program participants get their interlock serviced at any North Carolina location?

Yes. Monitech ignition interlock devices can be serviced at any of our 30 service center locations. For up-to-date service center hours and locations, check out our store locator.

2. Can an ignition interlock be installed on older vehicles?

Under most circumstances, an ignition interlock can be installed on any vehicle that operates with a 12-volt electrical system. However, since the ignition interlock monitors a number of vehicle functions, especially the alternator and charging system, the electrical system must meet certain minimal standards. On the day of installation, if the Monitech technician finds that a vehicle does not meet the minimal standards, the difficulties will be pointed out and a second appointment date will be established at no extra charge.

1. What if a client’s car is registered under someone else’s name?  

If the vehicle is not registered in the client’s name, it is necessary to provide a notarized Permission Letter from the owner. This letter is available for printout on our website under the Resources section. If the owner of the vehicle will be present at the time of installation, he or she may sign the permission letter at that time (without the need for notarization).

I hope you found these answers helpful. If you have any other questions regarding ignition interlocks, feel free to contact me.

Phone: (919) 801-6332

Twitter: @monitechtravlr

If you missed Part 1 of this series, my name is Bryce Little and I’m the Market Coordinator for Monitech. My job is to educate attorneys and alcohol assessment counselors on ignition interlocks. Over the course of this past year, I’ve received hundreds of questions about ignition interlocks. Now, it would’ve been hard to post every one of them here (See our FAQs page), so I’ve trimmed the list down to the top ten, and I’m answering them all in this three part series. This post deals with questions 7-4.


7. Can the ignition interlock shut my vehicle off while driving?

No. The way interlocks work is by interrupting the ignition signal to the starter motor before startup and, therefore, cannot turn the vehicle off — only prevent the vehicle from starting. 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.

6. Do I need an appointment to go to the service center?

Yes.  Local Monitech technicians are prohibited from accepting walk-ins or scheduling appointments directly from the service center. One must go through the Monitech Contact Center in order to schedule an appointment with a service center. The Contact Center can be reached at 1-800-521-4246.

5. Does the interlock device drain my battery?

The ignition interlock monitors the vehicle, even when it’s turned off, so it does require a small amount of battery power for this continuous activity. Therefore, Monitech recommends avoiding extended periods of nonuse, which may cause excessive battery drain.

4. Can I disable the ignition interlock myself to let someone else use the vehicle?

No. Tampering with or any attempted circumvention of the ignition interlock device is a violation of the North Carolina Ignition Interlock Program and may result in the loss of your driving privileges. The interlock participant may designate other individuals to operate the interlock vehicle, but in so doing, the interlock participant accepts any and all responsibility for interlock damages and/or program violations. For this reason, the interlock participant should utilize extreme caution in allowing someone else to operate the interlock vehicle.

TIRF Ignition Interlock Statistics

In early 1989, the founder of Monitech approached the N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles (NCDMV) about using the emerging technology of a breath alcohol ignition interlock device (BAIID) as a highway safety measure. The BAIID would allow drivers who had had multiple DWI convictions and their licenses revoked to legally drive again by requiring them to provide an alcohol breath sample before starting their cars. This would prove to the NCDMV that these drivers had changed their behavior; it would further provide the NCDMV with the assurance that repeat DWI offenders were no longer endangering the motoring public.

At that time, and still to this day, the NCDMV had a “conditionally restored” program for repeat DWI offenders: N.C. Gen. Stat. § 20-19(d) & (e).  Repeat DWI offenders could obtain a conditionally restored drivers license if (1) their license had been revoked for at least three years and (2) they could produce three witnesses who swore under oath that the offender had not used alcohol in at least one year. However, until the BAIID was developed, the NCDMV had no way of ensuring that the conditionally restored driver was actually abstaining from the use of alcohol before or during vehicle use.

The Pilot Program

So the NCDMV acted upon Monitech’s recommendation and founded the BAIID program under the following pretenses: 1) they would control the rules and fee structure of the program and 2) Monitech would incur all investment costs in personnel, services centers and equipment. The pilot program, which started with restrictions to 100 participants’ conditionally restored driver’s licenses, required Monitech’s device to record a breath alcohol content (BAC) of 0.02 as a WARN, a 0.04 -0.07 as a FAIL and a 0.08+ as a HIGH FAIL. These set points assured the NCDMV that N.C. roads would be safer.

Monitech was the first company in the nation to develop and deploy a BAIID using fuel cell technology to more accurately measure breath alcohol (the same technology used in most law enforcement breath testing instruments). It also increased its number of service centers statewide for customer convenience. While many states were hosting multiple BAIID providers, the NCDMV continued its partnership exclusively with Monitech for years. Though requests for proposals were put out for bid several times, Monitech was the only provider willing to invest in the technology and facilities necessary to provide statewide coverage.

For 22 years, Monitech served North Carolinians as their sole provider. In 2011, the NCDMV opened the state to multiple vendors and now Monitech shares friendly competition with Smart Start and Alcolock.

What’s an ignition interlock device?

  • A small breath analyzer that requires a clean, alcohol-free breath sample by a driver in order to start a vehicle.

What’s the purpose of the device?

  • Ignition interlocks are used across the nation as an alternative to license revocation.
  • When the law takes away individuals’ licenses for a substantial period of time, life as they know it becomes difficult (i.e. supporting a job, family and normal lifestyle).
  • Ignition interlocks are an alternative to revocation. They provide those convicted of a DWI with the opportunity to prove they can be responsible drivers again.
  • That’s why Monitech calls it the ‘road to redemption.’

Which drivers are required to have an ignition interlock device by N.C. law?

  • Those convicted of a DWI type offense with a 0.15 or higher BAC
  • Those with a prior DWI conviction or record required to drive an ignition interlock-equipped vehicle

How long are individuals required to have an ignition interlock device?

  • Terms range from one to 10 years depending on the number of convictions.
  • Driving a vehicle without the required device is illegal and will result in a revocation of all rights to drive for at least one additional year.

What’s the one thing an ignition interlock device is looking for?

  • Alcohol (also known as ethanol)

What’s required to start a car with an ignition interlock device?

  • A clean, alcohol free breath sample.

What steps are involved in the process?

  • A unique PIN to ensure that only the authorized driver is activating the test
  • A clean, alcohol-free breath sample
  • The driver must blow and hum continuously for eight seconds.
  • After a completed and successful breath test, the driver can start the vehicle.

What happens if the device detects alcohol?

  • If the device records a FAIL, a noncompliance report is sent to the DMV.

Can anything other than alcohol (ethanol) set off the device?

  • A FAIL can occur due to mouth contaminants.

What are examples of mouth contaminants?

  • Some foods and drinks other than beer, wine and liquor include alcohol type ingredients.

What should you do if your device detects a mouth contaminant?

  • If a driver consumes a mouth contaminant before activating the device, it will result in a WARN or FAIL.
  • The driver should wait five minutes, rinse thoroughly with water and retest.

By that time, any contaminant should have dissipated.

  • A second test will represent your accurate BAC.

What does the Monitech device look like?

How do I get more information about ignition interlock devices?

Visit: https://monitech.wpengine.com/faqs/

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