The current New Jersey law, enacted in 2010, requires the installation of ignition interlock devices for first-time DWIs with a blood alcohol concentration that meets or exceeds 0.15%, as well as all alleged repeat offenders. Ignition interlock devices reportedly prevented approximately 13,500 drivers from operating a vehicle while intoxicated last year alone. However, advocacy groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving believe that the current law does not go far enough and have pushed lawmakers to make ignition interlock devices a requirement for all DWI offenses.
Approximately three weeks ago, the New Jersey state legislature approved a bill that would require people who incur a DWI to install IIDs on their vehicles in lieu of suspending their driver’s licenses. The bill passed the state Assembly 75 to two and the state Senate 28 to five. It will become law if the governor chooses to sign it.
Proponents of the bill point out that license suspensions can disrupt people’s lives and affect their earning capability. Not only that, but a license suspension is not as effective at preventing people from driving while intoxicated as an ignition interlock device. An IID contains technology similar to the breathalyzer that authorities use to assess blood alcohol level. If the BAC of the person using the ignition interlock device is above a pre-determined limit, the device prevents the individual from starting the car.
Thus far, 33 states require ignition interlock devices for all DWIs. The bill’s sponsors in the legislature and advocates among the public hope that New Jersey will soon join their ranks. Regardless of what the governor decides, however, it may be prudent for those facing drunk driving charges to contact an attorney.