What are the Requirements of the Ignition Interlock Device in NJ?

Requirements of the Ignition Interlock DeviceAlthough DWI convictions are not classified as criminal offenses in New Jersey, the State imposes harsh penalties on anyone caught driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.  The current law requires offenders with a BAC higher of 0.15% or higher to have an ignition interlock device installed in their car.  It is also possible, based on the judge’s discretion, to be required to install the interlock device for a period of six to twelve months after license restoration for DWI’s with lower BAC results.

Is the Interlock Device Required for Refusal Convictions Too?

Yes, the ignition interlock device is required for those convicted of refusing the breathalyzer test.  For a first time refusal offense, the device must be installed during your license suspension, plus a period of 6 to 12 months following the restoration of your license.  The penalties increase for second and subsequent refusal convictions, requiring installation during your entire license suspension period in addition to one to three years following the restoration of your license.

Pending Proposed Changes to the Requirements of the Ignition Interlock Device in New Jersey

In 2013, Assembly Bill No. 3225, a bill mandating the ignition interlock devices for all first time offenders convicted of a DWI or refusal, was proposed to the New Jersey Legislation.  The controversy over the current law is that a BAC of 0.15% is almost twice the legal limit of 0.08%, generally associated with drivers who are visibly drunk.  However, there are compelling statistics that indicate even a BAC as low as 0.02% can impair driving skills.  Supporters of the bill, led by the national organization, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), argue that alcohol-related fatalities are significantly lower in states that currently have this requirement.  However, the bill has yet to be passed.

There is also another more recent pending bill, Assembly Bill No. 3835, which would allow NJ drivers convicted of drunk driving to choose an ignition interlock device over license suspension, if passed. (New Law May Prevent Loss of License blog post)  If this bill is passed, it gives those with repeat convictions additional requirements, such as a restricted license for third time offenders.

Getting the Interlock Device Installed in Your Vehicle

If you are required to obtain an ignition interlock device, you will need to contact a state approved dealer, who will install the device for you.  Since your license is suspended, you will need to have someone else drive you to your installation appointment.  Once the device is installed, the dealer will provide you with the paperwork required by the DMV in order to later have your license restored.  You will be issued a restricted use license, limiting you to vehicles with an ignition interlock device.  In order to start your vehicle, you will need to blow into the device and be shown to have a BAC below the preset limit.  This prevents you, or anyone else from driving the vehicle while under the influence, although you should be aware that you are liable for any consequences that arise from someone else driving your car while impaired by alcohol or drugs.

You will also be required to have the device monitored and calibrated every 8 weeks, and to inform the interlock device dealer prior to having your car worked on or repaired.  It is imperative that you do not miss your appointment, since the device will automatically shut down in order to prevent any further operation of the vehicle.  In that case, you will have no choice but to have the vehicle towed to the service center at your own expense.

Speak to a DWI Lawyer About the Requirements of the Ignition Interlock Device for Your DWI Charge

For more details on the state’s ignition interlock device laws, please speak with Partner Carmine R. Villani, Esq. of Villani & DeLuca.  As a public defender and former municipal prosecutor, Mr. Villani has over two decades of experience in the prosecution and defense of DWI cases.  Please call (732) 965-3350 to learn about your requirements under New Jersey’s interlock laws during a free consultation.