New Jersey ignition interlock law advances
Cape May readers may recall a prior discussion concerning federal recommendations about the mandatory installation of ignition interlock devices. That recommendation may well find its way into New Jersey law. A panel of the state senate recently approved legislation that would require the installation of an ignition interlock device as a consequence of any conviction for driving while intoxicated.
The ignition interlock functions like a breath test machine that requires a breath sample before the vehicle can be started and at random times during operation. Current law requires the installation of an interlock device only for repeat drunk driving convictions or first offenses with a blood alcohol concentration of .15 or higher.
The proposed legislation would make installation for at least three months mandatory for any DWI conviction, regardless of blood alcohol level. A second offense DWI conviction would require interlock installation for between two and four years, and a third offense would require a person to live with the device for anywhere between 10 and 20 years.
An ignition interlock device represents more than an embarrassing inconvenience. These devices cost money to install and maintain. As it stands, the costs of a drunk driving conviction can be staggering by the time fines, fees and surcharges are added up, not to mention the hidden expenses of a conviction such as increased insurance premiums.
In addition to the mandatory interlock requirement, the new legislation would mandate restrictive driver’s licenses that allow those convicted of driving while intoxicated to operate a vehicle only for traveling between certain locations at certain times of day for work purposes. If this bill becomes law, the costs of a New Jersey drunk driving conviction will be higher than ever and the need for a vigorous defense more critical than ever.
Source: phillyBurbs.com, “Senate panel advances bill requiring all DWI offenders to install ignition locks,” David Levinsky, Feb. 1, 2013