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How To Beat a Ignition Interlock Device
A guide on Beating a Ignition Interlock Device

An ignition interlock device (IID) is a safety measure installed in vehicles to prevent drivers from operating them under the influence of alcohol. These devices require the driver to provide a breath sample on a breathalyzer attached to the IID in order to start the car’s engine. The breathalyzer measures the alcohol level in the driver’s blood to ensure they are in a condition to drive safely and have complete control over their motor skills.

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Although there are several myths circulating about tricking a breathalyzer into registering a lower alcohol level, it is important to note that successfully bypassing a car breathalyzer, or IID, is extremely difficult and not recommended. IIDs are designed with sophisticated technology, making them resistant to most tampering attempts.

Understanding How an IID Works

An IID is typically installed in a vehicle after an individual has been convicted of drunk driving. Its purpose is to prevent the vehicle from starting if the driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) exceeds a predetermined level. Prior to starting the engine, the driver must blow into the device, which then measures and records the breath sample’s data. If the BAC is higher than the preset level, the vehicle will not start. This data is logged and periodically reviewed by the court and probation officers assigned to the driver.

California, for example, expanded a pilot program on January 1, 2019, requiring all drunk driving offenders to use an IID. While some individuals may be tempted to try various tricks, it is crucial to understand that these devices are built to resist tampering and are calibrated to accurately detect alcohol levels.

Debunking Common Tricks

  1. Consuming Strong-Flavored Foods: Some people believe that consuming strongly flavored foods like onions, coffee, or breath mints can mask the alcohol odor and deceive the breathalyzer. However, these foods do not alter the alcohol content in the blood, and the breathalyzer will still detect the BAC accurately.

  2. Relying on Caffeine: While coffee or sugary drinks may help increase alertness after heavy drinking, they have no impact on altering the alcohol content in the blood. The IID will still register a positive reading if the BAC exceeds the set threshold.

  3. Using Mouthwash: The notion that using mouthwash can trick the breathalyzer is entirely baseless. Most mouthwashes contain alcohol to kill germs and bacteria in the mouth. Even if no alcohol has been consumed, using mouthwash can result in a positive reading on the ignition interlock device.

  4. Opting for Zima: Zima, a beverage with a relatively weaker alcohol smell compared to liquor or beer, still contains alcohol. Drinking Zima may deceive individuals on the street, but it will not fool the ignition interlock device, which accurately measures the BAC.

  5. Unorthodox Attempts: There have been instances where individuals have attempted unusual methods to bypass the IID, such as using underwear as a filter or placing feces in their mouths. These desperate measures have proven ineffective and will not allow the car to start.

  6. Penny Under the Tongue: Some individuals claim that placing a penny under the tongue, with its copper content, can alter the BAC level. However, since the 1980s, pennies have been made primarily of zinc, rendering this technique useless. It’s important to note that driving under the influence, even with BAC levels below the legal limit, can still result in arrest and the need for high-risk driver insurance.

  7. Alternative Methods: While this article provides an overview of some ineffective methods, it is crucial to emphasize that attempting to bypass an IID is not only dangerous but also illegal. Instead of focusing on tricking the device, it is far more prudent and responsible to exercise self-control and avoid driving under the influence of alcohol altogether.


Attempting to defeat an ignition interlock device is highly discouraged, as these devices are designed with advanced technology and stringent measures to accurately detect alcohol levels. Tricks such as consuming strong-flavored foods, relying on caffeine, using mouthwash, or resorting to unorthodox methods are ineffective and can have severe legal consequences. It is essential to prioritize personal safety and the well-being of others by avoiding alcohol-impaired driving altogether.