Having your car battery die is always an inconvenience. But it becomes especially problematic if you have a court-mandated interlock device installed. These alcohol monitoring systems require power to function and can go into violation modes if the battery fails.
Car owners often comes up with a question like: Can a car battery died with interlock? Knowing the right procedures to follow when dealing with a dead battery in an interlocked vehicle will help minimize disruptions and get you back on the road safely.
Table of Contents
- • Notify Monitoring Authorities
- • Troubleshoot the Battery Itself
- • Jump Starting the Vehicle
- • Recharge the Battery After Installation
- • Retest Interlock Operation
- • Extend Monitoring Period
- Why Battery Failure is Problematic for Interlocks
- Maintaining a Healthy Battery with an Interlock
- Jumping a Car with Interlock: Safety Steps
- Returning to Normal Interlock Use
- Alternative Transportation Options
- Can Interlock Recordings Prove Compliance?
• Notify Monitoring Authorities
The interlock device is tied to monitoring authorities who track your compliance. Be sure to notify them immediately of the battery issue so the lapse in reporting is documented. Provide details on the vehicle, your ID, and steps being taken to address the problem.
• Troubleshoot the Battery Itself
Before attempting a jump start, do some basic battery troubleshooting. Clean any corrosion on the terminals and ensure cables are tight. Check the charge level and for signs of damage. A battery near its end of life may need replacement, not just jumping.
• Jump Starting the Vehicle
Carefully jump start the vehicle following proper precautions. This should enable starting the engine to power the interlock device. Avoid cranking the starter more than necessary to conserve battery charge.
• Recharge the Battery After Installation
After the interlock device powers back on, run the engine at idle or drive briefly to recharge the battery. The interlock draws power even when the vehicle is off, so ensure the battery does not run down again.
• Retest Interlock Operation
With the engine running and battery charging, redo your alcohol-free breath tests per your interlock instructions. Ensure it is reading BAC levels correctly. Calibrate or reset the device as needed following troubleshooting procedures.
• Extend Monitoring Period
Due to the lapse in reliable data during the battery failure, expect the court or monitoring authorities to extend your interlock period to make up for the missed reporting timeframe. Be sure to comply with any extensions to avoid violations.
With some additional care taken, a dead battery does not have to mean a major setback in your interlock use. Notifying authorities, troubleshooting the vehicle, retesting the device, and complying with any extensions keeps you on track.
Why Battery Failure is Problematic for Interlocks
It’s important to address car battery failure promptly with an interlock device installed because:
- The interlock unit relies on constant power to operate properly and log data. A dead battery disables this function.
- Breath alcohol tests cannot be completed while the engine and device have no power. This may be seen as a violation.
- Memory and reporting capabilities are interrupted during a power loss, disrupting compliance monitoring.
- The interlock enters a temporary lockout mode when power is restored, pending an inspection and reset.
- Your progress may be rolled back, requiring an extended interlock period as a result.
Carefully managing battery issues reduces disruptions in interlock monitoring and progress.
Maintaining a Healthy Battery with an Interlock
Drivers with alcohol monitoring devices installed should take extra care to maintain a healthy battery and electrical system. Useful steps include:
- Have the battery and charging system tested twice a year to catch issues early.
- Refrain from turning on accessories or lights when the engine is off for long periods.
- Avoid playing the radio at high volume without the engine running.
- Purchase a higher capacity battery that can withstand extended accessory use.
- Keep jumper cables in the vehicle at all times in case a jump start is needed.
- Recharge the battery fully after any discharges using a smart charger.
- Address any parasitic drains causing discharge as soon as detected.
Proactive maintenance reduces the chances of being stranded with a dead battery and interrupted interlock reporting.
Jumping a Car with Interlock: Safety Steps
If jump starting is necessary, be sure to follow safety precautions:
- Only use a 12V source like another vehicle’s battery for jump starting.
- Position the donor vehicle so cables easily reach between battery terminals. Avoid taut connections.
- Wear protective gloves and eye wear when handling jumper cables.
- Attach clamps carefully in sequence: 1) Red to dead battery’s positive; 2) Red to live battery’s positive; 3) Black to live battery’s negative; 4) Black to metal ground on dead vehicle.
- Do not allow red and black clamps to touch together once attached. This can cause sparks, battery explosion or system damage.
- Once started, remove cables in reverse sequence. Disconnect black from vehicle body first, then each battery’s opposite terminal.
Following safe procedures minimizes risks when jump starting a vehicle with complex electronics like an interlock installed.
Returning to Normal Interlock Use
Once your car is operational again after a battery failure, be sure to:
- Retest your device per instructions to ensure normal breath sample readings. Recalibrate if needed.
- If a violation occurred, work promptly with authorities to resolve it with documentation of the battery failure reason.
- Monitor your charge level carefully in the coming days. Recharge fully or replace the battery as warranted.
- Comply with any necessary adjustments to your monitoring schedule to account for lapses. Provide supplemental tests if mandated.
- Have your interlock inspected by an approved service provider to confirm no lasting damage occurred that would affect reporting accuracy.
- Going forward, avoid accessory use when parked and proactively replace aging batteries.
With some care taken, your interlock compliance won’t suffer permanent setbacks from an isolated battery failure if addressed properly.
Alternative Transportation Options
If your interlocked vehicle must remain out of service for an extended period due to a dead battery or repair needs, discuss alternative transportation options with your oversight authority. Possibilities may include:
- Temporary use of a non-interlock vehicle, if you have access to one and are approved to drive it.
- Public transportation like bus or rail service.
- Ridesharing services if compliant with any restrictions imposed.
- Bicycling or other non-motorized options.
- Vehicle rental or loaner equipped with required interlock technology.
- Permission for necessary trips outside standard interlock restrictions.
- Rescheduling mandated activities requiring transportation until yours is restored.
Being proactive with regulators avoids violations and keeps your limited driving on track during the vehicle disruption.
Can Interlock Recordings Prove Compliance?
Some believe the interlock device keeps recordings that can demonstrate breath test history and compliance if a violation occurs. However, most:
- Only record failure incidents, not every successful normal test.
- Overwrite storage constantly, with only limited recent results saved.
- Require downloading data after failures, wiping history.
- May lack sufficient data storage capacity for full long-term logs.
For these reasons, don’t rely on interlock data recordings alone to prove compliance during a violation investigation. Instead submit documentation like your battery repair invoices. Better to avoid violations altogether by handling car problems promptly.
Dealing with a dead battery is more complicated when an interlock device is installed in your vehicle. But notifying authorities, troubleshooting the problem, retesting once operational, and complying with any extensions avoids major disruptions. Maintaining your battery proactively reduces the chances of going through this scenario. With some care and planning, a dead battery doesn’t have to derail your interlock progress.