The Ignition Interlock Program

RoadSafetyBC may order a driver to take part in the Ignition Interlock Program, which is delivered by Smart Start. The program helps drivers separate drinking from driving. Research shows that interlock devices help reduce alcohol-affected driving.

An ignition interlock is a device wired to a vehicle’s ignition. The driver must provide an alcohol-free breath sample to start the vehicle. The device will also demand the driver provide samples at random times while the vehicle is operating. This is to ensure the driver remains alcohol-free while driving.

If a breath sample shows alcohol, the device will record the violation. It will also prompt the driver to pull over and turn the engine off. If the driver ignores the prompts, the device’s alarm will sound until the vehicle is off. Ignition interlocks record attempts to disconnect, bypass or tamper with them.

Drivers must go to an service centre to have data recorded by the device downloaded. They must also have ignition interlocks on all vehicles they drive.

We will send a letter to drivers we refer to the program. It will let them know about the program and the status of their licence.

Program violations include:

  • Failing a breath test
  • Failing to attend your scheduled appointment for servicing
  • Tampering with an interlock
  • Driving without a device

A violation may cause:

  • More time in the program
  • A new term imposed on the driver
  • A licence cancellation

The device may disable the vehicle of a driver who does not attend a maintenance appointment. The driver may:

  • Be removed from the program
  • Have their driver’s licence cancelled
  • Face legal action to recover the device or its cost

Drivers in the program are responsible for anyone who uses their device and for any violations that occur.

If you can’t provide enough breath volume to operate the device, you can apply to RoadSafetyBC for an exemption.

Follow these steps:

  1. Contact Smart Start to arrange an installation.
  2. If you can’t operate the device at any volume of breath, contact RoadSafetyBC for a Medical Exemption form. We’ll mail it to you.
  3. Have your physician complete the form and return it to RoadSafetyBC.

We’ll check with Smart Start that you attempted to operate the device. We’ll then review your form and tell you our decision in writing.

If you are eligible for a reconsideration, the process to follow is in the Notice to Refer to Remedial Programs letter we sent you. If you can't find your referral letter or need more information, contact ICBC or RoadSafetyBC.

A driver convicted of impaired driving may lose their licence and be required to complete a rehabilitation program—such as the Responsible Driver Program—before getting the interlock installed.

A driver referred to the Ignition Interlock Program who is eligible for a licence must get the device installed and may attend the Responsible Driver Program if they wish to continue driving.

Drivers in the program must follow their service agreement with Smart Start. They must create and follow a schedule to have their device data downloaded at a service centre.

RoadSafetyBC uses the data to decide whether the driver is eligible to remove the interlock device at the end of the term.

RoadSafetyBC will permit the ignition interlock to be removed if:

  • There have been no program violations
  • The interlock device has remained installed for the required length of time

The driver can then go to an ICBC driver licensing office to apply for an unrestricted licence.

Visit Smart Start's website for information about program fees.

Affordability Payment Plan

Ask Smart Start about the Affordability Payment Plan. It divides program fees into equal weekly payments billed to your credit card. No interest is charged on the fees.

No Barriers Financial Plan

If you are receiving income assistance, you may qualify for Smart Start's No Barriers Financial Plan. To apply:

  1. Visit the My Self Serve portal for a copy of your income assistance confirmation message.
  2. Email your confirmation message to with the subject line "No Barriers Financial Assistance Plan Application"
  3. Include your full name and driver's licence number in your email.

Smart Start will let you know if they've accepted you in the plan. It will also book an appointment with you to install the device. When you attend the installation, you must sign an add-on to the service agreement. It confirms you're participating in the plan.