Bill S1750: Ignition interlock devices for first-time DWI offenders in New Jersey

New Jersey lawmakers seek to make ignition interlock devices mandatory for all first time Driving While Intoxicated (DWI/DUI/Driving Under the Influence) offense. On June 21, 2012, Bill S1750 (The Bill) was to be voted on by the Senate Judiciary Committee. Current law states that these ignition interlock devices are mandatory only for repeat DWI/DUI offenders and first-time offenders with a Blood Alcohol Content (“BAC”) of 0.15% or higher. The bill would amend current law by making ignition interlock devices mandatory for first-time offenders convicted of DWI/DUI. If a DWI/DUI offender accumulates three (3) DWI/DUI convictions, the bill would require the offender to have the ignition interlock device for life.

Bill S1750 also proposes to lessen fines associated with DWI/DUI as well as shorten the length of driver’s license suspension to a maximum of sixty (60) days. The goal of these changes, according to some New Jersey senators, is to remove drunk drivers from the road while punishing them less. The reasoning behind this is that for those who live in suburbia, driving is a necessity—necessary to keep their jobs. This bill would allow all DWI/DUI offenders to be able to keep driving even in the face of a DWI/DUI conviction.

It is rumored that Bill S1750 was pulled prior to vote because a loophole existed that did not cover enough alternatives to the interlocking devices if the offender did not own a vehicle. One alternative was that a person convicted of DWI/DUI would be allowed only to drive vehicles that had the ignition interlock device installed. The bill is rumored to reappear for vote sometime in the fall of 2012.

If you are charged with a DWI/DUI or a traffic ticket or municipal offense, call an experienced Toms River attorney at the Law Offices of Apicelli & Costanzo. One of our Toms River lawyers can help you protect your rights and assist in mitigating the harsh consequences of DWI/DUI and traffic ticket convictions.

What are ignition interlock devices?

Ignition interlock devices are installed on a motor vehicle’s dashboard. The driver must first exhale into the device before the vehicle’s motor can start. If the driver’s Blood Alcohol Concentration (“BAC”) is greater than the programmed BAC—usually 0.02% or 0.04%—the device will prevent the engine from starting.

An interesting fact about ignition interlock devices is that at random times after the engine has been started and while the vehicle is being driven, the ignition interlock device will require another breath sample. This is to prevent a driver from bringing alcohol into the car and consuming it after being successful in starting the engine. If the driver’s BAC is higher than the programmed BAC of the interlock ignition device, the device will make a record of the event, warn the driver, and then start the vehicle’s alarm (flashing lights and intermittent horn-honking) until the vehicle is pulled over and the ignition turned off or a breath sample under the allowable BAC is provided.

This blog post is for informational purposes only and is neither intended nor should it be interpreted to be legal advice or opinion.