All repeat DUI offenders in Massachusetts are required to use a certified ignition interlock device during the length of any hardship license and for a minimum of 2 years after having the hardship restriction removed and a fulltime license granted.
Due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, we are being advised to sanitize our hands to stop the spread of this contagious virus. However, following these instructions could land ignition interlock device users in serious trouble with the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles.
The Registry imposes 10-year license revocations for ignition interlock violations and hand sanitizer has been known to trigger violations in the form of failed initial start tests and failed rolling re-tests, both of which can result in license revocations
The active ingredient in hand sanitizer is ethyl alcohol, otherwise known as ethanol. This is exactly the same type of alcohol which is found in liquor and alcoholic beverages and there is no way to discern if the alcohol registered by the interlock device originated from an alcoholic beverage or hand sanitizer.
A client of mine wrote as follows:
I am the wife of the restricted operator, but use Smart Start to drive our family vehicle. This is the second time that using preventative measures against COVID-19 has resulted in a false violation. My husband called Smart Start about a week ago when I used Purell in the car immediately after grocery shopping. Yesterday I decided to use Purell BEFORE entering the vehicle. Maybe it was still on my hands and got into the device, but now we have a second violation. Obviously, I was able to wait a minute each time for the hand sanitizer to clear the air and start my vehicle. But now we need to pay $50 to have the device unlocked! This is ridiculous. I stay home as much as possible to protect my family, but when I do need to go out, it’s crazy that I risk a violation every time I choose to sanitize my hands.
Anyone who operates an ignition interlock device equipped vehicle should be aware of this issue, so as to prevent violations and the severe consequences which the Registry of Motor Vehicles imposes for alcohol readings.