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Ignition Interlocks are NOT Ethanol Specific

Ignition Interlock Devices

Ignition Interlock Devices are not breathalyzers. They are lockout devices and they could never meet the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) breathalyzer certification standards. Nevertheless, the Registry routinely relies on Ignition Interlock Device (IID) Readings to impose 10-year license revocations.

One of the many problems with IIDs is that they are not ethyl alcohol, which is also referred to as ethanol, specific. Ethanol is the type of alcohol found in alcoholic beverages. There are many other alcohols which are used in common household products, foods, mouthwashes, cleaners, and other items. It is a proven fact that IIDs are unable to distinguish between ethanol and these other alcohols. As Cynthia Hites correctly points out in her Virginia Ignition Interlock Forum, the “alcohol free” version of ACT Mouthwash contains sorbitol, menthol, and propylene glycol. These are all alcohols and the IIDs are not specific enough to differentiate between these alcohols and ethyl alcohol found in alcoholic drinks.

Any chemical which ends in “-ol” is an alcohol and these Ignition Interlock Devices might be “alcohol specific” but they are absolutely not “ethanol specific.” They have been shown to detect other alcohols and register false positive readings because of this. For example, windshield washer fluid and antifreeze have been known to trigger Ignition Interlock Violations in the form of failed startups and failed rolling retests. This is because they contain alcohols which prevent them from freezing in the winter. Being non-ethanol specific, interlock devices will register the presence of these chemicals and violations can be triggered.

Interlock violations can result in 10-year license revocations and extensions of the IID license restriction in Massachusetts. If you have an IID, it is important to avoid any chemicals which end in “-ol,” because they are alcohols and IIDs will register their presence. The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles imposes the harshest license revocations in the country based on a device that is only certified as a lockout device and which his not ethanol specific.

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