Frequently Asked Questions
How do I go about getting an interlock device installed?
Call us on 0800 002 182 to get set up in our system, this will only take a few minutes.
We’ll then arrange a time to get your interlock installed at your nearest service centre.
We look forward to talking with you!
What is an alcohol ignition interlock?
An alcohol interlock is a breathalyser which is wired into your car’s ignition. An alcohol interlock will not allow your vehicle to start until an alcohol free breath sample has been provided.
An alcohol interlock records every start, stop and test results, along with any violations. These are made available as a report for authorities to view.
Before you start your vehicle you will need to provide an alcohol free breath sample. It’s very quick and easy to do.
Once you have passed the test you can then start your vehicle.
While you are driving your interlock will call for random tests which must be taken, otherwise this is classed as a violation.
Each month you need to take your vehicle back to a service centre to get the data downloaded and the interlock calibrated, this takes ten to fifteen minutes, monthly payment is made at the time of the service.
How do I know if I am okay to drive the morning after drinking?
The amount of time alcohol remains in your system depends on a number of factors, including:
- The amount of alcohol you drank: The more alcohol you drink, the longer it will take for your body to break it down and eliminate it.
- Your weight: People with a higher body weight tend to metabolise alcohol more slowly than people with a lower body weight.
- Your gender: Women tend to metabolise alcohol more slowly than men.
- Your liver health: People with liver damage may have a harder time metabolising alcohol and it may stay in their system longer.
- The type of alcohol you drank: Different types of alcohol are metabolised at different rates. For example, beer and wine are metabolised more slowly than liquor.
- Your genetics: Some people have a genetic predisposition to metabolise alcohol more slowly than others.
The only real way of knowing is to test yourself on an accurate personal breathalyser, for more information see smartstartinterlocks.co.nz/alcohol-monitoring-options.
This is useful to check your alcohol level before you blow into your interlock to prevent causing a violation.
Don’t use your interlock device as a tool to test your alcohol level, this will be recorded as a violation which may potentially extend the length of time you have your interlock installed.
What if I need help after hours, what do I do?
You can call us on 0800 002 182 and leave a detailed message which will be emailed through to us. Please listen to the instructions on the answerphone message to ensure your message goes to the right place.
When you leave a message, ensure you leave your name and phone number and details of your problem so we can call you back.
We will deal with messages in order of priority, if we consider it urgent we will get back to you soon, otherwise please call us the next business day.
How do I know if I am eligible for the subsidy?
NZ Transport Agency may grant you subsidy assistance if your financial circumstances qualify you for an alcohol interlock subsidy.
You may be eligible for a subsidy if:
- your alcohol interlock sentence was issued from 1 July 2018 onwards, AND
- you meet the financial eligibility criteria.
To prove that you meet the eligibility criteria, you can either:
- show your community services card to the licencing agent when you apply for your alcohol interlock licence, or;
- provide a signed and witnessed Statutory declaration in respect of application for alcohol interlock subsidy form (DL27) when you make your application for an alcohol interlock licence.
For more information on the alcohol interlock subsidy, visit our subsidy page.
My interlock screen is saying LOCKOUT, what do I do?
This means you have a certain number of hours before your vehicle permanently locks out – ensure you get to a service centre before the specified hours shown on the screen otherwise you will need to get your vehicle towed to service, alternatively call us for options.
A violation of some sort has been occurred to cause the vehicle to go into lockout mode – either service is overdue, alcohol violations or a test has been skipped.
Can I buy an interlock device?
No you can’t. This is due to the changes in technology, we can continually upgrade your unit if you lease it from us.
We do have a lot of voluntary clients, please call us on 0800 002 182 to enquire.
Can someone use a balloon or other air source to mimic human breath?
No. All Smart Start devices have anti-circumvention features, which cause the alcohol interlock device to abort phony breath samples.
How much will an interlock cost me?
The cost of an ignition interlock device can vary depending on a number of factors, including whether you are eligible for a subsidy or funding from Corrections.
If you are eligible for the alcohol interlock subsidy, you pay a subsidised monthly lease and the cost of installation and removal is covered by the subsidy.
The subsidy covers the cost of your alcohol interlock licence, installation, $50 per month towards the monthly lease, removal and your zero alcohol licence at the end of the programme.
If you are not eligible for the alcohol interlock subsidy, the standard pricing is $199 per month. You’ll also have to pay for the initial installation, and removal at the end of the programme.
When you get your interlock installed you pay the installation fee and your first monthly lease to the service centre that does your interlock install.
Additional fees may apply if you do not adhere to the requirements.
Please call us on 0800 002 182 to discuss
Can I apply for a different type of licence while I have an alcohol interlock licence?
You can apply to renew, replace or reinstate your alcohol interlock licence. However, you’re not entitled to get a limited licence or to get any new licence classes or endorsements. This means if you only hold a restricted licence, then you can’t get a full licence until your alcohol interlock licence has ended.
Can the interlock turn off my vehicle when its running?
No, the interlock device will never shut off your vehicle while it is running.
However, if you cause an alcohol violation while you are driving you may be in a temporary lockout when you come to use your car the next time. This lockout can be for either 5 or 30 minutes.
Am I responsible if someone who is drunk blows into my interlock?
Yes, under the conditions set out by NZTA, you are responsible for any alcohol readings blown through your interlock device.
Can an interlock user leave his/her car running outside of a bar, whilst drinking inside, and then drive away?
The interlock will randomly ask for breath tests while the engine is running. If a sample is not given when requested, the device will log a violation and you will be required to go for an extra service, this would also extend your alcohol interlock programme.
Can I start my vehicle without taking a test?
No, your vehicle will not start without a test.
Can anyone drive a vehicle with an interlock in it?
Yes, any driver can drive a vehicle with an interlock installed but they must take and pass a breath test in order to start the vehicle.
All other drivers should be trained on the operation of the device.
The person with the interlock device restriction is responsible for all readings recorded by the device.
Can the device be tampered with by computer?
No. Proprietary software and a special interface connection are needed to communicate with the device.
Do medicines affect the interlock device?
Maybe. Any medicines containing alcohol may register as a reading on your interlock device. We recommend you wait at least 15 minutes after taking your medicines, then rinse your mouth with water, before you blow into your interlock device.
How do I exit the interlock programme?
When you’re ready to exit the alcohol interlock stage of the programme, take your vehicle to one of our Service Centres for a final reading and then call the NZTA straight away on 0800 822 422 and apply to exit the interlock programme.
Note: Your final service must be at least 12 months after your initial install date. e.g. if you were installed on the 1st of April 2019, your final service must be on the 1st of April 2020 or later.
The NZTA will view your reports and let you know if you are okay to exit.
Learn more about exiting the alcohol interlock programme here.
How long is an interlock sentence?
An interlock sentence is at least 12 months.
You can exit this programme when you have completed your allotted sentence time, plus complied with the programme requirements.
The NZTA will check your reports before you exit the programme, and you will need:
the previous 6 months violation free
the previous 3 months violation free AND have completed an alcohol assessment with a preferred provider as specified by NZTA.
Find an approved drug and alcohol assessment centre in your area.
How often does the interlock device need a service (calibration)?
A calibration check is needed once a month, this is due on the ‘anniversary date’ that the device was installed on.
You will have 5 days leeway either side of this date to get into your nearest service centre for a service before your vehicle will permanently lockout.
For example if you get your interlock installed on the 10th of the month, you can go in for a service anytime from the 5th to the 15th of any month.
Watch your screen for prompts.
I need to use the car now, why won't the car start?
Most likely there has been an alcohol violation the last time the car was used.
This would have put it into a temporary lockout for either 5 or 30 minutes.
You will need to leave your key on for the specified amount of time as shown on the screen so the interlock can clear itself of the lockout.
If you are worried about your battery going flat, you can sit in your vehicle and turn your key on then off every 8 minutes until the interlock device clears itself of the lockout.
If the interlock device unit malfunctions, will it shut the vehicle off?
No. The interlock device unit has no means of interrupting vehicle operation once it is started.
What do I do if my interlock device is not operating correctly?
Call us on 0800 002 182 and let us know what is going wrong so we can help you out.
If it is outside our office hours of 7am-5pm or in the weekend, still call 0800 002 182 and leave a DETAILED message which includes your name, phone number and the nature of your problem.
If we consider this is urgent we will call you back straight away, otherwise please call us the following business day.
What do I need to bring on the day of installation?
Bring your alcohol interlock licence and your payment for the full amount of the install and the first months lease. Payments can be made in cash, eftpos, debit or credit card – no cheques.
What happens if the driver misses his/her service appointment?
The interlock device will warn you for 5 days that your service is due.
If the unit is not serviced, the interlock device will enter a lockout and the driver will not be able to operate the vehicle.
If this happens, the vehicle would have to be towed to a service agent at your cost.
In some circumstances we may be able to provide a temporary unlock code (at your expense) to allow you to drive your vehicle to get serviced.
What happens if the vehicle stalls in traffic?
The interlock device has a 3 minute restart feature which allows the vehicle to be started again without having to provide another breath sample, but a breath sample may be requested shortly after restarting.
What happens when a driver fails the breath test?
The interlock device will enter a short lockout period of 5 minutes for the first failed breath alcohol test and a 30 minute lockout for any subsequent failed breath alcohol test.
This provides an opportunity for the alcohol to dissipate from the mouth and for the driver to consider the reason for the failed breath alcohol test.
This information will be recorded in your interlock.
What if I have to take my car for repairs?
You must instruct the service agent that you have an interlock device and show them how to use it, or stay there and blow into the interlock when it requests a test. You are responsible for ALL tests taken on your interlock.
If your service agent has any questions about the interlock device, get them to call us on 0800 002 182.
What if the driver is taking a medicine with an alcohol base?
Alcohol is alcohol no matter where it comes from.
If the driver’s breath alcohol is over the preset level, the driver will not be able to start the vehicle.
During the training session at the time of install, drivers are warned about common substances that contain alcohol such as mouthwash and some medications.
Do not eat, drink, smoke or chew anything for at least 15 minutes before you blow into your interlocks. Make sure you drink water before you blow into your interlock.
What if the driver uses mouthwash in the morning and the mouthwash has an alcohol base?
Again, alcohol is alcohol.
If the driver does not allow sufficient time for the alcohol to dissipate from his/her mouth, a FAIL will be registered as a violation.
Do not eat, drink, smoke, vape or chew anything for at least 15 minutes before blowing into your device, if in doubt, have a drink of water first to wash your mouth out.
What will an interlock look like in my vehicle?
The interlock device will look very similar to a breathalyser except it is attached by a cord to your vehicle.
It is roughly the size of your hand and can either be mounted on a clip on your dashboard or stored near your gear lever.
It does not need to visible to those outside of your vehicle.
Will installation of the interlock device damage the vehicle?
The unit is only connected to the wiring under the dash and under the bonnet.
At the end of the programme, this wiring is restored to pre-installation conditions.
Will the interlock device unit lose all memory if the battery is disconnected?
The unit has a flash memory so any battery disconnection does not result in a memory loss, all data will still be available at the next download.
Will the requirements to take a “rolling retest” cause the driver to take his/her eyes off the road creating a hazardous situation?
When the interlock device calls for a retest, the driver has 5 minutes to provide the sample.
This is enough time to allow the driver to pull over to the side of the road in a safe area to provide the breath sample.
There are no buttons to push; the driver only needs to blow into the unit to complete a breath sample.
Ensure safe driving practices at all times.