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NJ DWI Penalties: Ignition Interlock Devices (IID’s)

If you are convicted in New Jersey of a DWI after January 2010, you may face ignition interlock installation requirements.

An ignition interlock is a device that is attached to the starting mechanism of your vehicle. You have to blow into the device in order to allow the car to start. If you have no alcohol on your breath, or less then the set-point of the device, which is 0.05% in New Jersey, your car will start. You will then have to take a “rolling retest”, which requires you to blow into the ignition interlock device approximately 30 minutes after your operation of the vehicle has begun.

Installation of this device obviously has several setbacks, not the least of which is the cost. There are fees to install and remove the unit, as well as monthly maintenance fees on the device, and other fees that may be imposed if there are violations on the unit. For a first offense, the cost of installing maintaining and removing the unit is approximately $1,000 or more. This depends upon whether the unit is installed for the suspension period, and 6 to 12 months after your license has been restored. For a second offense, the unit must be installed on your vehicle for the two-year suspension period, and 1 to 2 years after your license is restored. For a third offense, the device is to be installed during the 10 year suspension period, and 1 to 3 years once your license is restored.

Certainly, a concern of a motorist with a device installed in the vehicle is that other people will see the driver blowing into the unit. This can affect family and social circumstances, as well as employment circumstances. If you are required to drive a company vehicle, you must only operate a vehicle in New Jersey installed with an interlock device during the required interlock period.

It seems that installing the unit during the suspension period does not make much sense. However, statistics indicate that up to 75% of suspended drivers continue to operate vehicles while suspended. As a result, the Legislature decided to require installation of the device during the suspension period in case the suspended driver operates a vehicle during that time.

In order for you to get your license back, just prior to restoration you must show proof of installation of the unit on a vehicle. If you do not have a vehicle to install the unit on, or do not show proof of installation, you will not receive your license back. There are several companies authorized by the motor vehicle commission to install these devices. These companies are listed on the Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) website.

Your license, once it is returned to you, will have a marking at the top in capital letters, IGNITION INTERLOCK. You may not operate a vehicle without an ignition interlock New Jersey during the period that is required following your license restoration. If you do, and if you are stopped by the police, you will be ticketed for a violation that results in an additional one year license suspension.

For a first offense, if your breath or blood alcohol is less than 0.15%, installation of the device is discretionary by the court. However, if your breath or blood alcohol is 0.15% or above, installation is mandatory. For second and greater offenses, installation is mandatory.

In a first offense case, if you are initially charged with a breath or blood alcohol level of 0.15% or above, it is still possible even if you are convicted on a DWI, to avoid having the device installed. If you are successful in getting the breath or blood alcohol reading dismissed from your case, you would then be considered “tier 1″ offender, and there would be no required installation.

Of course, as a driver charged with a New Jersey DWI, your goal is to win the DWI altogether. There are many defense to a DWI charge in New Jersey. For any of these circumstances, please call Levow & Associates for a free consultation.

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