Feds recommend New Jersey make ignition locks the law
Most Cape May readers have probably at least heard about ignition interlock devices that require a person to provide a breath sample for blood alcohol analysis before allowing a vehicle to be started. Currently, 17 states make the installation of an ignition interlock device mandatory upon any conviction for drunk driving. The National Transportation Safety Board recently issued a statement recommending that all states make interlock devices mandatory on the first offense of driving while intoxicated.
According to the board, drunk driving accounts for more than 32,000 traffic fatalities each year and more than half of all DWI accidents involve drivers with blood alcohol levels exceeding double the legal limit. The board’s recommendations did not just stop at recommending interlock installation as a consequence of a DWI conviction, however.
The board went on to urge the federal government to speed up development of an infrared blood alcohol sensor and to implement installation of the new sensors in every new vehicle. Although the board claims that building the sensors into every new car might prevent as many as 7,000 drunk driving fatalities each year, the proposal met stiff opposition from the American Beverage Institute. A spokesperson for the institute pointed out that the sensors would deprive people of the ability to have a glass of wine with dinner and would punish law abiding citizens rather than the “hardcore” drunk drivers responsible for the greatest number of accidents.
Under New Jersey law, ignition interlock device installation remains at the discretion of the judge for a first time DWI conviction as long as the driver’s blood alcohol level is less than .15 percent. That discretion allows the judge to take account of individual circumstances and make an informed decision to fit the punishment to the crime. In New Jersey, first time DWI offenders still have the opportunity to be judged on the merits of their story. An experienced DWI attorney can help make certain that story gets heard by the judge.
Source: New Jersey Herald, “NTSB: Use ignition locks for all drunken drivers,” Joan Lowy, Dec. 11, 2012