Attempt to Change N.J.’s DWI Law Hits Roadblock

dwiA proposed bill that could have drastically changed current DUI penalties passed New Jersey’s state Senate but was recently rejected by Governor Chris Christie on March 23, 2015. Bill 2427, which was introduced in January 2015 and passed Legislature in February, proposed adding an interlock ignition device on the primary car for every person convicted of any drunk driving offense. Interlock ignition devices are about the size of a cellphone and require a driver to intermittently blow into them. The devices block the engine from starting when the driver’s breath produces a reading above 0.05 percent. This bill would have fundamentally changed the way New Jersey punished drunk drivers.

 

Proposed Changes?

Currently, the New Jersey DWI law only requires repeat offenders and those who register blood-alcohol content of 0.15 or greater to install the device. (The legal definition of drunken driving is 0.08.) The new bill proposes adding the device on the primary car for every person convicted. Under current law, every convicted DUI driver loses their driver’s license for a minimum of three months. Those who have multiple DUI arrests on their record can lose their licenses for much longer, even up to two years. Bill 2427 proposed to reduce that suspension to only ten days because the fact that the ignition interlock device would be installed on every offender’s vehicle preventing them from driving drunk.

 

The changes this bill would make to the CURRENT statute are an increase in the current interlock structure and required installation on all offenses.

• 1st offense, 1st tier-required IID for 3-6 months after suspension.
• 1st offense, 2nd tier-required IID for 6-12 months after suspension.
• 1st offense, 3rd tier-required IID for 12-18 months after suspension.
• 2nd or subsequent offense: required IID for 18 months to 4 years after suspension.

 

Why Was It Rejected?

NJ.com reports that Christie rejected the legislation (A1368), calling it “too sweeping, and too lenient” because it would reduce mandatory license suspensions for first-time offenders from the current 3 months to just 10 days.” He returned the bill to the Legislature and proposed imposing both penalties on all drunken-driving offenders. “By combining our existing, rigorous system of mandatory license suspensions with the active monitoring provided by the interlock devices, New Jersey will provide new hope in the fight against drunk-driving deaths and injuries,” Christie wrote in his veto message.
For the bill to become a new law, both houses of the Legislature must pass it again with Christie’s recommended changes and then send it back to his desk for consideration.

 

Consult With a DWI Lawyer Today

New Jersey is known as one of the most severe states in the country with respect to DUI laws and penalties. If you have been injured or a loved one has been involved in a New Jersey drunk driving car accident, call the New Jersey DWI lawyers of Villani & DeLuca P.C. today. Call 888-389-9533 for a free initial consultation. We represent clients throughout Monmouth County, Ocean County, and the rest of New Jersey.

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