Governor Vetoes DWI Bill Requiring Interlock Device and Reduced License Suspension
On March 23, 2014, New Jersey Governor, Chris Christie, rejected a DWI bill that permits traffic court judges to reduce the license suspensions for those convicted of DWI in exchange for the installation of ignition interlock devices. Gov. Christie stated that he did not believe that the state’s system of imposing license suspensions should be reduced, although he feels ignition interlocks can play an important role in preventing drunk driving. He said the reduced license suspensions were too lenient.
The proposed bill would have substantially reduced the license suspension time for those convicted of DWI offenses. A first offender, under the bill, with a blood alcohol level of .08% to .10% would be required to have an interlock device for three months. If the BAC is between .10% and .15%, the device would be installed for seven months to a year. A first offender with a BAC of .15% or higher would get a seven to twelve month license suspension but could apply to have it reduced in exchange for an ignition interlock after 90 days.
Currently, under the DWI statute, N.J.S.A. 39:4-50, there is a mandatory loss of driving privileges for all DWI offenses. For a first-offense with a blood alcohol level of at least .08% but less than .10%, the license suspension is three months. The license suspension is seven months to one year if the BAC is greater than .10%. Second-offense requires a mandatory two-year license suspension, and a third offense is 10 years.
Gov. Christie felt the bill showed leniency for DWI offenders, even though it passed the State Assembly in a 46-15 vote.