FAQ - Device
How reliable are Alcohol Interlock Devices?
Smart Start devices use leading fuel cell technology and are calibrated at every servicing period to ensure reliability. Because the devices are very sensitive, they can detect even small amounts of alcohol which may be present in substances such as food or toothpaste. Due to this it is recommended that you do not eat or drink ten minutes before taking a test and while driving. Drinking some water before taking a breath test to clear potential contaminants from your mouth is recommended.
Can anyone install and maintain the interlock?
Only qualified service providers can install and service Alcohol Interlock Devices. The device installed must be an approved model. Smart Start Interlocks and our agents are fully qualified to install and service devices, and have service centres all over Australia. Our two Alcohol Interlock Devices meet Australian and International standards.
Can the interlock shut down the car while I’m driving?
No. The Interlock Device will never interfere with the safe operation of your vehicle. The devices are designed to affect the vehicle’s starter system, never the engine itself. The engine will only turn off when you manually turn it off. Furthermore, if your car stalls or shuts down in traffic, you will have 3 minutes to restart the engine without having to provide a breath sample.
Why can the device detect alcohol in my breath when I haven’t been drinking?
Because the devices are very sensitive, they can detect even small amounts of alcohol which may be present in substances such as food or toothpaste. Due to this it is recommended that you do not eat or drink ten minutes before taking a test and while driving. Drinking some water before taking a breath test to clear potential contaminants from your mouth is recommended. Common products which can cause false positives include:
- Mouth Wash
- Cough syrup
- Tobacco and Cigarettes
- Hand sanitiser can also affect your result and should be avoided prior to using the handset
- Vanilla products including ice-cream
- Fermented food products
I’ve blown a positive breath sample and I believe it’s a false reading. What do I do?
If you have recorded a positive breath sample which you believe to be incorrect, it is suggested that you rinse your mouth with water before providing your retest sample after the temporary lockout period ends. If you blow a reading below 0.02, you may have confirmed your last test was a false positive and this will be reflected in your interlock reports. We also suggest that you document such events, so you can provide details if reviewed.
After I start the engine, how do random/rolling retests work?
After you pass the initial test and the engine starts running, the device will continue to request breath samples randomly. The first random retest will occur shortly after starting the engine. After this the device will continue to request retests between 15 – 60 minutes after the previous random retest has been passed.
When requesting a random retest, the unit will sound an alert and the display will read ‘BLOW’ with a countdown indicating how long you have to safely pull over and provide a breath sample.
Take note that the device will continue to request tests randomly so long as the vehicle is running. Even if you have arrived at your destination, if the device asks for a breath sample you must provide it. Turning off the vehicle will be considered a refused breath test and recorded as a violation. Do not leave your car running and unattended as you may miss a breath test and record a violation.
If a random retest is failed or missed, the lights and horn will activate to warn others that you are a potential road hazard. It is recommended that you pull over in a safe location and turn off the engine to stop the alarm. This may put your vehicle into a temporary lockout. After the lockout period has ended you will be required to provide a passing initial test to start the vehicle.
My car won’t start and the Interlock Device reads ‘LOCKOUT VIOLATION’, what do I do?
This means that the vehicle is in permanent lockout and will not start. Permanent lockouts occur when: (1) your scheduled maintenance is seven days overdue OR (2) you have missed an unscheduled service which has been requested due to violations recorded by the device.
You must call the Smart Start Interlocks Head Office (1300 256 900) to obtain an unlock code. This code will allow you to operate the vehicle for a specific time period as per your relevant state regulations, during which you must drive the vehicle to one of our agents for an unscheduled service. Unlock codes cost $55 each and can only be given out twice during any one service period.
The Interlock Device just aborts during testing and I can't start my vehicle.
Most aborts are caused by improperly blowing into the device. If the problem persists, the participant should call Smart Start Interlocks Victoria (1300 256 900) for a solution.
What do I need to know when having my nominated vehicle serviced/repaired?
Ensure that your mechanic is aware that an approved Alcohol Interlock Device is installed in the vehicle, and that disconnecting the battery for twenty minutes or longer should be avoided as this will be recorded as a violation.
If you need to replace your car battery or starter, keep a receipt for your battery purchase and keep the time between disconnecting the battery and reconnecting it to less than 20 minutes.
My battery has gone flat, is the Interlock Device the cause?
No. The Smart Start Interlock models have a low current draw of only 20mA, similar to that of the radio. Factors which cause the battery to go flat are the same regardless of whether you have an Interlock Device installed or not; an aging battery or faulty alternator. To keep your car battery topped up it is good practice to drive your car at least 2-3 days a week. With a properly functioning battery and alternator, and regular use of the vehicle, you should never have an issue with flat batteries.
What happens if I’m travelling interstate?
If travelling for an extended period without your vehicle, ensure that you will not miss a scheduled service appointment, as this may cause your vehicle to be permanently locked out upon your return.
If you are planning to travel interstate for extended periods with your vehicle, you can arrange servicing at any of our service centres around the country. Check our Service Centre Locations while planning your trip.
Can other people drive my car once an Interlock Device has been installed?
Anyone with a licence can drive your vehicle but they must use the Alcohol Interlock Device. If you are confident that the other driver is of good character and has been trained in the use of the Interlock Device, they may drive your vehicle. Keep in mind that you are still legally responsible for all readings recorded by the device. If you have a camera installed, you may be able to dispute a recorded violation if the image taken clearly shows another person providing the breath sample.
Can I drive a vehicle other than my nominated vehicle?
Your interlock licence condition prevents you from driving any vehicle without an alcohol Interlock Device installed.
Can two drivers who both participate in the program use the same vehicle?
If you are participating in the QLD Program, please refer to FAQ Queensland.
For all other states, two drivers with the Interlock ‘I’ condition on their licence should not use the same vehicle as the Interlock Device only records data for a single participant. In this situation the drivers must use separate vehicles with their own separate Interlock Device if they both wish to participate in an interlock program at the same time.
What do I do if I drive a company vehicle?
You can have an Alcohol Interlock Device installed in a company vehicle provided that you have permission from the legal owners of the vehicle.
If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact your local service agent or call 1300 256 900
For after-hours support please call 1300 256 900 option 2.