Alcohol is pretty useful stuff. It cleans, sanitizes, preserves, and also helps make a mean martini. If you have an ignition interlock in your car, you’ve been told that the device is sensitive to alcohol. And that means all types – not just the kind you drink.
Because it’s so useful, alcohol is everywhere. And you could easily bring it into your vehicle by mistake, causing a false positive. It’s unlikely these trace amounts would trigger a permanent lockout, but they could cause a temporary fail if you don’t know what to do about it. Here are some of the culprits:
- Hand sanitizer. Most such products are made with isopropyl alcohol or ethanol and a thickener of some kind. If you rub it on your hands, the alcohol could waft into the mouthpiece and cause the device to react. Remedy: don’t use hand sanitizer when you’re planning to drive.
- Hair spray. Alcohol in the form of ethanol or tert-butanol is used dissolve the sticky substances in the spray and help them get airborne. An average spray has enough alcohol to cause a reaction with an ignition interlock. Remedy: no hair spray before driving.
- Cologne. Once again, anything that dries fast does so because alcohol, which evaporates quickly, is used as the solvent. That includes perfumes and colognes. Remedy. Don’t use them.
- Cold cream. This might come as a surprise, as cold cream doesn’t smell like alcohol. But it contains menthol for fragrance and propylene glycol as a stabilizer and preservative.
- Windshield washers. You might avoid drinking and also reject the personal care products above. But what if you zap your windshield with glass cleaner, or spray de-icer on a frosty window. Alcohol is used to lower the freezing temperature of the water. Remedy: to clean glass, use vinegar and water. To de-ice, use a scraper till your interlock period is over.
When you first get your ignition interlock, it might be a chore remembering not to use these products. After a while it will be second nature. And remember that it’s not forever. Once you complete your interlock requirement you can use whatever health, beauty and car maintenance products you like. Till then, use your head, and your nose: say “no” to alcohol in any form while driving.