State lawmakers in New Jersey recognize drunk driving as a serious statewide issue. They wish to reduce the risk to the public from intoxicated drivers while at the same time not placing an unreasonable burden on individuals trying to hold down jobs and take care of their families. To that end, the governor recently signed a bill into law that will expand the use of ignition interlock devices in addition to revising other drunk driving penalties.
The new law goes into effect on Jan. 1st, 2020. It requires an ignition interlock device for anyone found to have committed DWI, even if it is the first offense. The duration of the IID requirement depends in part upon the driver’s blood alcohol concentration at the time of the arrest. For example, the law will require a driver to install an IID on his or her vehicle for seven to 12 months if test results indicate a blood alcohol level from 0.10% to 0.15%. A first-time offender with a BAC over 0.15% must install an IID for nine to 15 months. However, a first-time offender with a BAC between 0.08% and 0.10% need only install an IID for three months.
The law also changes the rules governing driver’s license suspension. In some cases, it increases the term of suspension. For example, those who fail to install a required IID will face a suspension of 18 months, compared to the one-year suspension that the current law requires. However, in other cases, the required suspension term has decreased. For example, under the new law, a license suspension will only last only as long as it takes the driver to have the IID installed, whereas before the mandatory minimum was 45 days.
The hope is that increased IID requirements will help to prevent future accidents related to driving while intoxicated. However, those who have already sustained injury due to a drunk driver may find it helpful to explore their legal options with an attorney.