Senate approves bill to allow ignition interlock devices instead of long license suspensions in drunk driving (DUI) cases in New Jersey
A Senate panel unanimously approved a bill that would make the ignition interlock device a main penalty for DWI prosecutions in lieu of long license suspensions. This is based on studies that have shown that the ignition interlock devices are the best way to prevent drinking and driving. The same study shows that long license suspensions do not have the same effect.
Ignition interlock devices are installed on the vehicle next to the steering wheel and do not allow the vehicle to be operated unless the driver blows into the device and is not under the influence of alcohol. Currently, ignition interlock devices are required in certain DWI cases, specifically first offense DWI cases where the blood alcohol content (BAC) reading is higher than .15% as well as refusal cases (where the driver refused to provide a breath sample). It is also required for second and third time DWI convictions.
The new law would require an ignition interlock device on a first DWI offense where the BAC is between .08% and .10% for a period of three (3) to six (6) months in lieu of a license suspension. If you do not own a vehicle to have the device installed on, then your license would be suspended for the same period of time. For a BAC over .10% on a first offense or if the person was under the influence of drugs, the device would be installed for seven (7) to twelve (12) months.
Second offense DWI the device must be installed for two (2) to four (4) years and third offense DWI, ten (10) to twenty (20) years. These devices would be installed instead of the license suspension. However, second or subsequent offenders would be restricted to driving only to work or for other travel set by a judge for atleast the first year. Anyone who couldn’t have the device installed on a vehicle because they don’t have a vehicle or can’t afford it, would have their license suspended for the same period of time.
This would be a drastic change in New Jersey DWI law. Also, it would appear that work licenses would be allowed in New Jersey under this new law which is currently not the case. We’ll see if this bill actually gets passed.