New Jersey Interlock Program

Like every other state in the US, New Jersey has adopted the ignition interlock device as a DWI sentencing option. A hand-held device, the interlock can be installed in the dashboard of any vehicle. Once installed, the vehicle’s engine will not start until its driver has exhaled into the machine and registered a breath alcohol content (BrAc) below a certain limit.

In New Jersey, that limit is 0.05%.

Will I Be Given An Ignition Interlock Device?

In addition to the standard monetary penalties, judges must sentence second and third-time DWI offenders to either install an ignition interlock device or revoke their vehicle’s registration entirely. At their discretion, judges can sentence first-time offenders to the ignition interlock as well.

The device must be installed in any motor vehicle owned, leased or regularly operated by the convicted person for a period of six months to one year. This period will begin after your license, which was suspended immediately after your conviction, is reinstated.

On a second offense, the ignition interlock device may be required for one to three years following license restoration.

What About Other Cars?

The driver sentenced under this law cannot drive any vehicle that does not have the device installed. New Jersey’s Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) will imprint a notation on your driver’s license making this prohibition clear, and they’ll enter the requirement on your driving record.

Instead of completing the necessary interlock time period, you have the option of surrendering your license completely. The device will then be removed from your vehicle(s).

What Happens If I Don’t Use It?

The penalty for driving a vehicle without the device, or for starting the car by some way other than blowing into the device, is one year additional suspension of driving privileges.

If someone blows into the device for you, that person is subject to a “disorderly person” criminal complaint, with penalties that can include a $1,000 fine and six months in jail.

Tampering with the device is also a disorderly person’s offense.

Do I Really Have To Pay For It?

Yes, if you are sentenced to install an interlock device, you have to pay for its installation, and cover a monthly leasing fee for the product. The reduced rate for indigent persons is 50% of the installation charge and 50% of the monthly leasing fee.

While prices vary, expect to pay up to $100 for the initial installation, and then between $50 and $100 every month for the leasing fee.

A list of breath alcohol ignition interlock devices (BAIID) certified by the MVC, and the service centers where the BAIIDs may be obtained and serviced, can be requested by contacting MVC at the following address:

  • New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission
    PO Box 134
    Trenton, NJ 08625-0134
    (609) 292-7500

What If The Judge Revokes My License Instead?

The registration revocation applies to all passenger automobiles, motorcycles and noncommercial trucks owned or leased by the repeat drunk driving offender, including vehicles that are jointly registered or leased by that offender.

The offender is required to surrender to the Motor Vehicle Commission, within 48 hours, all registration certificates and registration plates of currently registered vehicles.

If you fail to comply, they can impound your vehicles. The period of revocation would be two years for a second drunk driving conviction and ten years for a third or subsequent drunk driving conviction. It runs concurrent to the period of license suspension imposed for the violation of the DWI law.