A new bill recently passed the Assembly Appropriations Committee in New Jersey that could make the installation of ignition interlock devices mandatory for all drivers convicted of a DWI in New Jersey.
According to New Jersey legislators, the bill is designed to reduce the number of drunk driving incidents by repeat offenders by making it more difficult for individuals convicted of a DUI to drive drunk again.
New Jersey DUI defense attorney Evan Levow explains the proposed legislation and discusses New Jersey’s current laws regarding ignition interlock devices below.
An ignition interlock device is hard-wired under the dashboard to the ignition wiring of a vehicle, preventing the vehicle from being started. Before starting the engine, the driver must take a breath alcohol test by exhaling into the device.
If the device registers a breath alcohol content (BrAC) level above the programmed limit, then the interlock device will prevent the vehicle’s engine from starting. In the State of New Jersey, ignition interlock devices restrict the engine from starting if a driver records a breath alcohol content of 0.05% or higher. Almost all states have their units set at 0.02%.
Drivers convicted of a second or greater DWI offense must install the interlock in the car they principally drive.
Currently, only first offenders with an alcohol level of 0.15% or above must install an interlock in the car they principally drive for 6 to 12 months. First offenders with no breath test result, or a result under 0.10%, currently do not have to install the device. Judges can, in their discretion, based on the circumstances, still order a device to be installed.
In the bill heading to the Senate, Lawmakers are seeking to amend the law to cover all first offenders.
If you are convicted of a DUI and you are sentenced to install an interlock device on your vehicle then you will receive a notice from the Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) with instructions on how to obtain an approved device.
Any motor vehicle that you operate (including motorcycles) must be equipped with an approved device for the entire duration that was determined by the court as part of your sentencing.
Failure to have an ignition interlock installed on your vehicle after being ordered to do so by the court is illegal and can result in an additional license suspension of up to one year, fines and even jail.
The proposed bill that recently passed the Assembly Appropriations Committee would mandate the use of ignition interlock devices for anyone (including all first time offenders) convicted of a DUI in the State of New Jersey. It also reduces suspension time for first offenders whose breath alcohol result is under 0.10% or no reading from 3 months to 30 days, and the interlock for 90 days.
However, the bill will still have to pass the Senate and be signed by the Governor before it becomes legislation.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) - a nonprofit organization that seeks to stop drunk driving - celebrated the recent progress of the interlock bill as a victory. The organization has actively advocated for all states to require first time DUI offenders to install ignition interlock devices on their vehicles.
According to MADD, the use of ignition interlock devices is 70 percent more effective at reducing repeat drunk driving incidents than license suspensions alone. Since the new law will require interlocks for all drivers convicted of DWI, the world should be a safer place.
The devices are meant to control the behavior that results in driving while intoxicated. Change the behavior and there will be less drunk drivers on the road.
Many are concerned that the reduction of license suspension will make it easier for someone to have that extra drink because suspension for a first offense under 0.10% would be 30 days if the bill passes in the Senate. A less onerous penalty would result in an increase of drunk drivers who can cause more accidents.
Were you arrested on DUI charges in New Jersey?
Being convicted of drunk driving can lead to expensive fines and surcharges, loss of job and license, requiring an ignition interlock device, and other serious consequences.
Too many drivers who are arrested on suspicion of drunk driving mistakenly believe that their only legal option is to plead guilty to the charges against them and accept the full consequences of a conviction.
However, with the help of an experienced attorney it is possible to successfully challenge a DUI arrest.
In fact, the award-winning DUI defense attorneys at Levow DWI Law, P.C. have helped thousands of drivers arrested on DUI charges throughout New Jersey to obtain favorable outcomes, such as reduced penalties and/or charges or full dismissal of charges.
Please contact us today for a free consultation with our experienced legal team to learn about your legal options after a DUI arrest.