Virginia Regulatory Town Hall
Other Agencies
Commission on the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program
Commission on the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program
Petition 300
Petition Information
Petition Title Petition to Amend 24VAC35-60-70, F, 3
Date Filed 5/24/2019    [Transmittal Sheet]
Petitioner Cynthia Hites 
Petitioner's Request

I, Cynthia Hites, a citizen of the Commonwealth of Virginia, pursuant to Virginia Code § 2.2-4007, do humbly submit this petition for the following amendment to Virginia Administrative Code 24VAC35-60-70, F, 3 (Ignition Interlock Regulations).

This petition does not seek to address ethanol specificity, as it is already established by law.  24VAC35-60-70 states Virginia ignition interlock machines \\\\\\"shall be alcohol specific,\\\\\\" and 24VAC35-60-20 defines that alcohol as ethyl alcohol (C2H5OH).

The machines shall be ethanol specific, and that is not in question.

This petition directly addresses the State\\\\\\'s usage of the electrochemical fuel cell for ignition interlock, and because it cannot meet the standards set forth by law, avenues must be opened to improve the science behind breath testing.

The electrochemical fuel cell is a simple and unsophisticated tool used to detect alcohol, which, in chemistry, as in this context, does not mean drinking liquor, but simply means any organic compound that contains one or more hydroxl groups attached to a carbon atom.

These alcohols include, but are not limited to:

Sorbitol [C6H14O6], Isopropanol [C3H8O], Cholesterol [C27H46O], Xylitol [C5H7(OH)5], Erythritol (C4H10O4), Methanol (CH4O), Menthol (C10H20O), and Cortisol (C21H30O5).

For this reason, Virginia law 24VAC35-60-20 explicitly defines \\\\\\"alcohol\\\\\\" as the compound C2H5OH, which is ethanol.

Being non-ethanol specific, the electrochemical fuel cell measures and records citizen\\\\\\'s private biological medical information and misconstrues it falsely as ethanol.  I believe this is an invasion of the medical privacy afforded by the Health Insurance Portability and Affordability Act.

Measuring a litany of bodily organic compounds and claiming them to be ethanol is unethical, invasive, and totally misleading to the general public.  It goes against the intent of the statute.

To have any lesser standard than ethanol specificity is a disservice to society, and because the electrochemical fuel cell measures an unknown and inexhaustive set of compounds, its usage must be suspended until such time a device can be proven to meet the standards set forth by 24VAC35-60-20 and 24VAC35-60-70.

Currently, 24VAC35-60-70, F, 3 states:

\\\\\\"3.  The ignition interlock device shall be alcohol specific, using an electrochemical fuel cell that reacts to and measures ethanol, minimizing positive results from other substances.\\\\\\"

This petition seeks to change the wording from \\\\\\"an electrochemical fuel cell\\\\\\" to \\\\\\"technology\\\\\\" and to change the word \\\\\\"minimizing\\\\\\" to \\\\\\"eliminating,\\\\\\" thus reading:

\\\\\\"3.  The ignition interlock device shall be alcohol specific, using technology that reacts to and measures ethanol, eliminating positive results from other substances.\\\\\\"

A device that detects and measures only drinking alcohol is a product of science fiction.  Electrochemical fuel cells measure and collect private health data and bodily emissions, aside from drinking alcohol, then uses that private health data to falsely accuse citizens of ethanol ingestion.  Continued usage of electrochemical fuel cells for this purpose constitutes nothing less than governmental gaslighting.


Cynthia Hites

Agency's Plan

This petition will be heard on June 5, 2020 at the Commission on VASAP quarterly meeting.  Due to the COVID-19 situation, the meeting will be conducted via teleconference.

Comment Period Began 6/24/2019    Ended 12/31/2019
Virginia Register Announcement Submitted on 5/24/2019
The Virginia Register of Regulations
Published on: 6/24/2019     Volume: 35  Issue: 22
Agency Decision Take no action [Transmittal Sheet]    
Response Date 6/6/2020
Decision Publication Date Published on: 7/6/2020     Volume: 36  Issue: 23
Agency Decision Summary

The term "alcohol-specific” began to be used in industry terminology years ago in order to differentiate early ignition interlocks from second generation interlocks.  The early interlocks employed semiconductor (nonspecific) alcohol sensors.  These semiconductor-type (Taguchi) interlocks did not hold calibration very well, were sensitive to altitude variation, and reacted positively to non-alcohol sources.  By the early 1990s, the industry began to produce "second generation” interlocks with reliable and accurate fuel cell sensors, that were referred to as being "alcohol specific.”

"Alcohol-specific," as the language has come to be understood, does not mean the devices are totally ethanol specific, it just means they have high specificity to drinking alcohol or ethanol.  It is extremely unlikely that the breath of a living human would contain any other substance to which fuel cell sensors will respond.  Other types of alcohols (non-drinking) such as methanol or isopropanol to which the ignition interlock would yield a positive result are toxic and potentially lethal when consumed.  As a safeguard though, VASAP has procedures in place to enable offenders to retest whenever they suspect a positive test is due to residual mouth alcohol (from something such as mouthwash) or a non-breath source such as hand sanitizer.  Positive results, other than from consumed ethanol, can be minimized or eliminated by following the proper breath testing procedures and agreed terms of the ignition interlock contract.

All current ignition interlocks in Virginia are required to meet National Highway Traffic Safety Administration standards as found in NHTSA’s Model Specifications for Ignition Interlock Devices.  The definition of "alcohol” found in the ignition interlock regulations is consistent with the definition for "alcohol” found in the Code of Virginia and NHTSA’s model specifications. 

The subject matter of this petition has already been addressed in whole or in part by the Commission in previous petitions.

Therefore, no action was taken by the Commission on this petition.

Contact Information
Name / Title: Richard Foy  / Field Service Specialist
Address: Commission on VASAP
701 E. Franklin Street, Suite 1110
Richmond, 23219
Email Address:
Telephone: (804)786-5895    FAX: ()-    TDD: ()-