Frequently Asked Questions

The Smart Start Ignition Interlock System is a breath testing device containing cells that can detect alcohol on a person’s breath. The device is connected to the vehicle’s ignition system to prevent it from starting if a pre-set level of alcohol is detected on the driver’s breath.

There is a fuel cell sensor that is like those found in the breath testing devices that law enforcement uses. The fuel cell can only measure alcohol and, if alcohol is detected, the vehicle ignition system is told not to start the vehicle.

Normally, the ignition to a car is turned to the “on” position and the car starts. With an interlock device installed, turning the ignition to the “on” position powers the device on for it to then ask the driver to perform a breath test. If the test is successful, the ignition will be allowed to start the vehicle. After about 3 to 6 minutes after driving commences, the driver will be asked to perform another test. Once this test is complete, the device then requests rolling retests every 10 to 45 minutes.

Rolling retests makes sure the driver is not drinking while they drive. By requiring the random tests, the driver is not able to leave the car while it is running. The retests also deter the driver from trying to have a sober person start the car if the driver has consumed alcohol.

Once the device asks for the rolling retest, the driver has 10 minutes to comply. If the driver does not take the test within the ten minutes, it is considered a violation and will then ask for another test. If the driver continues to refuse the rolling retests, all violations allotted to the driver will be used up and the vehicle will go into what is called “early lockout.”

The State of Minnesota require that Smart Start MN install a camera that takes a picture each time a breath test is performed, or if a test is skipped. We believe that the camera provides a benefit to the ignition interlock required driver, who may be able to prove that a positive test was not from them, but another person.

Each calibration period allows 3 violations. Violations occur when a rolling retest is missed or an alcohol test comes up as positive. If the violations are used up, Smart Start goes into Early Lockout. Early Lockout gives the driver 5 days to bring the vehicle in to one of our service stations in Minneapolis or elsewhere in the state to be calibrated. If the vehicle is not calibrated by the end of the 5 day period, the car is immobilized. A car is also immobilized when a driver fails to bring their vehicle in for calibration 5 days past the scheduled appointment.

You can receive a one-time unlock code for the device and only Smart Start can provide that. Once the unlock code has been used, Smart Start requires the driver to go about their normal schedule, but the driver has 6 hours to bring the vehicle in for service. No other ignition interlock manufacturer has the ability to do this.

Failing a rolling retest means the driver’s blood alcohol concentration was over .02. The vehicle will not be automatically shut down in the middle of the road. This can create a hazard on the roadway, so the device will send a report to the Department of Public Safety as soon as the vehicle is at its required calibration appointment.

All household members who use the vehicle will have to blow into the interlock device in order to drive the vehicle. It is not, however, a requirement that all household vehicles have Smart Start. The only vehicle required to have the device is the vehicle that the driver who has been revoked or cancelled will be using.

Because a driver has ten minutes after the rolling retest request to do the test, the driver has time to find a safe time to perform the test, which takes approximately 10 seconds. We instruct our clients to pull over to perform the test.