There are many potential causes of ignition interlock violations, such as initial start failures or failed rolling re-tests, which have absolutely nothing to do with having consumed alcoholic beverages. In these cases, the ignition interlock device misidentifies and misinterprets another substance for the ethanol which is found in a person’s breath after he or she has consumed liquor.
For example, mouthwashes, cough medicines, certain cold and flu medications such as Nyquil and inhalers containing albuterol can all cause false IID alcohol readings. An ignition interlock device is simply not sophisticated enough to differentiate between these substances and the alcohol found in consumed alcoholic beverages.
It has been repeatedly demonstrated that certain foods can cause inaccurate ignition interlock device readings. Sometimes, liqueurs are added to desserts and baked goods which contain sugar and yeast have been known to result in IID violations. The combination of yeast and sugar may produce alcohol which can trigger a reading.
Certain breath mints, toothpastes, and suglarless gum which contain menthol and/or sorbitol have caused false alcohol readings. This is not surprising because sorbitol is an alcohol. Similarly, mouthwashes have caused ignition interlock violations due to their alcohol content. Even some non-alcoholic mouthwashes have caused violations. For example, Listerine Cool Mint Zero Alcohol mouthwash contains Sorbitol, Propylene Glycol, Eucalyptol, and Menthol. These chemicals are all members of the alcohol family and they will result in inaccurate IID readings. Therefore, interlock users should not just rely on a label stating that the mouthwash is “alcohol free.” You must check the ingredients to ensure that the mouthwash does not contain any chemical that ends in “-ol.”
Massachusetts Ignition Interlock Device users should take precautions to prevent alleged IID violations which are caused by substances being misinterpreted for consumed alcoholic beverages. The Registry imposes 10 year and lifetime driver’s license revocations for IID violations and taking preventive measures can prevent a long-term license loss.
Fortunately, if you have been accused of a IID violation, you have the right to be represented by a lawyer and there are several effective legal defenses available in these situations.