In New Jersey, the penalty for drunk driving may significantly change if proposed Assembly Bill No. 3835 (A3835) is passed. This pending bill allows drivers with a NJ DWI arrest who are convicted to have an ignition interlock device installed in the motor vehicle which he or she owns or leases. This ignition interlock device is a breath alcohol detection device that prevents an alcohol-impaired person from starting a motor vehicle. For a first or second time NJ DWI arrest, this bill allows for the placement of an interlock ignition device in their motor vehicle instead of the driver’s loss of license.
Benefits of the Interlock Ignition Device
- Before starting a motor vehicle, the driver must breathe into an interlock device. If the device detects a certain amount of alcohol, then the motor vehicle will not start. The device records statistics, e.g. dates, test results, time, etc. The device will help decrease the occurrence of driving under the influence of alcohol which is important for ensuring public safety.
- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) believes the ignition interlock device can prevent future relapse of DWI incidents by individuals who have a previous NJ DWI arrest.
- The goal is to decrease the number of people with a NJ DWI arrest or injury. According to the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, in 2012 in New Jersey, 164 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes and the total number of people with a NJ DWI arrest was 25,697.
Loss of License and Interlock Device Requirements for an Existing NJ DWI Arrest
The New Jersey DWI statute, N.J.S.A. 39:4-50, currently has strong penalties for convictions of drunk driving. The blood alcohol concentration (BAC) in the driver at the time of the arrest is a key factor in determining DWI penalties.
A first time DWI offender is subject to any one of the following non-monetary penalties:
- A BAC from .08% to less than .10% can result in a driver’s license suspension of three months. The installation of an ignition interlock device may be ordered by the judge.
- A BAC from .10% to less than .15% can result in a driver’s license suspension of between seven months and one year. The installation of an ignition interlock device may be ordered by the judge.
- A BAC of .15% or higher can result in a driver’s license suspension of between seven months to one year with an ignition interlock device during license suspension plus six months to one year after suspension.
The non-monetary penalty for a second time offender, at all BAC levels, is the loss of the driver’s license for two years with an ignition interlock device during license suspension plus one to three years after suspension. The nonmonetary penalty for a third time DWI offender is a ten year loss of license, plus an ignition interlock device during license suspension plus one to three years after suspension.
Proposed DWI Law May Offer Interlock Device Instead of Loss of License
The sponsors of the pending bill A3835 are NJ Assembly Representatives Linda Stender and Ralph R. Caputo. On December 16, 2013 this bill was referred to the New Jersey Assembly Appropriations Committee. This pending bill would significantly change the current NJ DWI law.
This bill permits a person convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol, or refusing to take a breath test for alcohol (commonly called the breathalyzer) to install an interlock device on their motor vehicle. If this is the person’s first NJ DWI arrest, then only one primary motor vehicle that he or she owns or leases should have the interlock device. If this is the person’s second or more convicted DWI offense, then every motor vehicle that he or she owns or leases would requires the interlock device. The bill proposes that a person ordered to install an interlock device who fails to do so is subject to a disorderly person’s offense. Under this law, someone who is convicted of DWI or refusal without ownership of a motor vehicle would get a suspended driver’s license instead.
What Costs are Involved with an Interlock Device?
The device costs approximately $100 per month to rent. The length of time the ignition interlock device is on the motor vehicle depends on the BAC at the time of conviction and the number of DWI convictions the individual has in his or her past. The driver’s license belonging to the convicted offender would get suspended for 10 days, in order to have the ignition interlock device installed.
How Long Would I Be Required to Install the Interlock Device?
Under this bill, it is proposed that for a first-time NJ DWI arrest, the individual will be required to install the ignition interlock device for a period of time according to the following schedule:
- For a BAC from .08% to less than .10% the interlock device would be installed for three to six months.
- For BAC from .10% to less than .15% the interlock device would be installed for seven months to one year.
- For BAC .15% or higher can result in a license suspension of 90 days with an interlock device from seven months to one year.
The second time DWI offender would be required to have the ignition interlock device on his or her vehicle for two to four years in proposed bill A3835 is passed. The offender will also be issued a restricted use driver’s license. The DWI offender with 3 or more convictions will be required to have the ignition interlock device for between 10 to 20 years and will be issued a restricted use driver’s license.
The “restricted use driver’s license” would limit the offender to only drive to and from work, or to pursue employment, or as otherwise set forth by the court. A new restricted use driver’s placard would be placed on display in the motor vehicle’s rear window.
Contact Villani & DeLuca About Your NJ DWI Charge
The experienced DWI defense attorneys at Villani & DeLuca are knowledgeable about the current drunk driving laws and the proposed A3835 bill. Our attorneys have extensive experience in the municipal courts and county courts throughout New Jersey. Call Villani & DeLuca today at (732) 965-3350 to speak with an attorney or contact us online. We can arrange for a free consultation to discuss your case.