Innovation

Why Do We Need a Breathalyser to Start a Car?

Why Do We Need a Breathalyser to Start a Car?
Written by Shikha Mehta

Did you know that one out of 3 people goes through accidents caused by drunk driving? This may involve the accused as well as the sober victim. With this alarming rate of accidents taking place in spite of having a law, it’s high time we have a breathalyser to start a car.

I bet you’ve seen policemen with breathalyzers at night, especially on weekends and special occasions. Today, you get these devices that can be installed in your car. It is connected to the engine and is placed close to the driver.

How to Use a Breathalyser to Start a Car?

There are manual as well as automatic car interlock devices in the market. When it comes to a smart or automatic device, you literally have to do nothing. However, you need to blow into a manual device.

Considering a manual device installed in your car, this is how a breathalyzer works:

  • You turn the keys or press a button to start the engine. However, the engine won’t start till you breathe into the breathalyzer in a given period of time.
  • Suppose, you have 5 minutes to give your alcohol test. The moment you start the car, you need to breathe into the ignition interlock device and obtain results within 5 minutes.
  • Usually, the device does not take long to provide results. You can see the results from the screen. The device sends electrical signals to the engine of what you see.
  • Once the device detects your blood to be sure, you finally feel the engine start and can now begin to drive.
  • Now, if you are going for a long drive, maybe after 45 minutes you might have to give a re-test. The device begins to give you a signal for the same.
  • You now have to stop your car purposely and give the retest. On obtaining favorable results, you’re back to driving.


The whole point of having a breathalyzer is to prevent drunk driving. So, if the driver’s alcohol test is beyond the limit, the engines won’t start in the first place.

A breathalyzer car doesn’t start when you press the start button. You won’t feel the engine’s motor vibrate even a little. Only once you are detected sober, the engine will start.

If the device detects alcohol beyond the prescribed limit, the ignition system gets locked. This is the reason why it is also called the ignition interlock device.

Now, when you can’t start the car in the first place, where does the question of drunk driving arrive?

If you start tampering the device in order to drive, you might get locked permanently. When you buy a breathalyzer for your car, do check its user guide properly. This includes instructions on installation, how to use and what to do if your car ignition is locked permanently.

How Does the Ignition Interlock Device Benefit You?

You clearly see what a car breathalyzer really does. You may know you shouldn’t drink & drive. However, sometimes if you’re not in senses, it may not strike you.

Some of these facts on drunk driving may explain how having a breathalyser to start a car can benefit you:

  • If you’re caught driving with your blood alcohol limit above 0.08%, your punishment starts with a fine payment of $1,000. This may exceed up to suspension of license and imprisonment if you cause an accident.
  • The highest cases of drunk driving accidents report spinal cord injuries for the driver if he is injured at all. Most of them are severe enough to lead to paralysis.
  • Once you drink, there is nothing that can make you sober – not even taking rest. You can bee sober only after an overnight sleep. So, if you drink and feel you’ll be fine after a power nap, it’s not going to work. You’ll still be prone to accidents.
  • You may have driven in a drunken, high or tipsy state. However, if you make this a habit, you’re bound to get caught at least once. A million people get arrested every year for this.
  • If drinking gets you aggressive or excited, you have more than 50% chances of crashing your car. The chances increase even more if you are below 25.
  • When you crash a car, usually your insurance helps you recover damages. However, if you were driving in a drunk state, it will pay for the victim’s damages, not yours. Penalty charges by law add up. So, imagine the monetary loss you make.
  • You might not have a habit of driving in a drunk state. However, what if you lend your car to a friend and he tries driving after drinking? The breathalyzer saves your friend as well as your car in this case.

How Do Car Breathalysers Save Live?

Car breathalyzers prevent drunk driving accidents from the root. Ideally, one shouldn’t take his car to the bar or club if he intends to drink and there is no sober companion to drive. However, the majority do not do that, thus leading to drunk driving accidents.

So far, it is compulsory only for people who have been caught driving after drinking to install breathalyzers. A lot of innocent victims die as a result of drunk driving – this includes people sitting in the passenger seat as well as pedestrians on the street.

What about the fact that a young man could drink and drive for the first time and kill someone in an accident?

Since a car interlock device doesn’t allow anyone to drive in a drunken state, it prevents major accidents that take place every year – 1 in every 50 minutes.

There’s no harm in installing a breathalyzer in your car. You may not believe in drunk driving, but the cost of installing a breathalyzer is not so high. Given that it ensures your safety, your car’s safety and the well-being of every other fellow citizen, it is worth it.

Do you feel that it should be compulsory for everyone to have a breathalyser to start a car?

About the author

Shikha Mehta

I discovered my talent in writing while I was in high school. Since then, I discovered the joy of sharing your knowledge with people around you. This is the reason why I love making my contributions to Insights of Technology. Being a certified content writer, I have been writing on several topics, science & technology being one of my favorites.

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