Ignition Interlock Device Laws, Requirements, & Penalties in NJ

“The ignition interlock device is New Jersey’s in-car breathalyzer.”

The ignition interlock device is a machine that will be installed in your car for a required period of time, depending on the nature of your DWI conviction. This applies to all driving while intoxicated convictions involving alcohol and liquor, as well as convictions for refusal to submit to a breath test in New Jersey. 

The machine tests your blood alcohol level before your vehicle can be started.  If your breath reading indicates that you have consumed too much alcohol, your vehicle will fail to start.  Obviously, this machine is intended to be a preventative measure to your blood alcohol concentration when you intend to operate a motor vehicle and to prevent drunk driving.

There are a number of ignition interlock providers which can be found online or you can go to the DMV and they have a number of pamphlets for the different companies. There is a fee associated with the installation of the device and there is a monthly fee associated with the maintenance and use of the device. The device is installed next to your steering wheel on your vehicle.

If you are mandated to have an interlock on your car and you don’t own a vehicle to put the device on, then you can’t get your license back until your interlock period is over. Essentially, you are only licensed to drive a car with the interlock device on it so if you don’t have or use a car that you can put the device on, they won’t give you the privilege to have your driver’s license.

Since the overhaul of New Jersey’s DWI laws in December of 2019, every DWI conviction will result in the installation of an ignition interlock device.  Multiple DWI offenses will lead to the mandatory installation for longer periods of time, as can DWI convictions with unusually high blood alcohol content.

What is the Ignition Interlock Requirement for DWI in New Jersey?

The required time period for having an ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle depends on the specific circumstances of your DWI case. For a first offense with a blood alcohol concentration in the 0.08% to 0.10% range, the interlock requirement is 3 months. Your license is suspended until the IID is installed. For those convicted of first-time DWI with a BAC in the range of 0.10% to 0.15%, the device requirement is 7 months to 1 year. Your license is also suspended until you install the ignition interlock device in your car. Finally, for a first offense DWI with a BAC of 0.15% or higher, the license suspension period lasts between 4 to 6 months and the interlock requirement is 9 to 15 months.

For second offenses, DWI convictions carry longer interlock periods. Specifically, the ignition interlock device must be installed in your vehicle for between 2 and 4 years after your license has been suspended for 1 to 2 years and your license has been restored. Lastly, for third-time DWI convictions, the license suspension period is 8 years, followed by a period of 2 to 4 years during which the ignition interlock device must be installed in your vehicle.

Keep in mind, the ignition interlock device can become expensive.  It’s going to cost money between the installation fee and the service costs for maintaining the device in your vehicle.  Obviously this is going to add up, especially in conjunction with your fines, insurance premiums, and DMV surcharges.

Additionally, it’s embarrassing to have this object in your car.  Imagine going out on a date and having to blow into the interlock device before your car starts. Obviously, there may be some explaining that you’ll need to do about why you can’t drive without a BAC below 0.05%.

In addition, if you are ordered to have an ignition interlock device on your vehicle and fail to do so, or if you tamper with the interlock device that was installed on your car, this is a criminal charge in New Jersey which can result in enhanced penalties such as fines, probation, jail time, and a criminal record.

Its best to avoid being “sentenced” to the use of an ignition interlock device and a NJ DWI lawyer can help.  We can potentially have your DWI or DUI case dismissed entirely.  If not, we can challenge the accuracy of your initial breath test reading or negotiate an alternative sentence depending on the strength of your DWI case.

If you would like to learn more about how we can fight your case, please watch our advanced DWI defense strategy videos, or give The Tormey Firm a call for a free consultation. You can reach us online anytime or call (201)-556-1570 for immediate assistance.

“These videos explain how we will fight against your DWI charges:”

Challenge the Initial Motor Vehicle Stoppage
Challenge the Field Sobriety Tests
Challenge the 20 Minute Observation Period
Challenge the Alcotest 7110 machine itself


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If you've been charged with a criminal offense, disorderly persons offense, or traffic / DWI violation, you have the right to an attorney who will defend you against your charges and fight for your best interests. To learn more about how your attorney can fight to have your charges dismissed or reduced, click a link below to see our video library of legal defenses and strategies.

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