DUI/DWI Interlock Device Instead of License Suspension
New Bill would offer NJ DWI or DUI the option to install an Interlock Device versus having license revocation for assigned period of time. The other parts to this Bill would extend the length of time for repeat offenders for suspension.
If you have been charged with a DUI in New Jersey, you need to call Simon Law Group today for your free consultation! Call 800-709-1131 and speak with a NJ DUI Attorney about getting your DUI charges dismissed.
Bill Would Make Interlock Device Available to All N.J. DWI Convicts
Michael Booth, New Jersey Law Journal
March 25, 2014
New Jersey lawmakers have advanced a bill to allow more convicted drunken drivers the option of having ignition interlock devices installed in their cars as an alternative to license revocation.
The Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously recommended passage of S-385, sponsored by committee Chairman Sen. Nicholas Scutari, D-Union, and Sen. James Whelan, D-Atlantic.
State law now requires installation of the devices for repeat offenders and first-time offenders with a blood-alcohol concentration of .15 percent or greater.
The legislation passed by the committee Monday would expand availability to all drunken drivers, with the mandated length of time to be based on the number of offenses and the blood-alcohol content underlying them.
An interlock is similar to a breath analyzer that is installed on the dashboard of an automobile. If the machine detects alcohol, the engine will not start.
All states now mandate the use of the devices and 20 states require them for first-time offenders.
Under S-385, a first-time offender with a BAC of between .08 and .10 percent would have the device installed for three months. A driver with a BAC between .10 percent and .15 percent would have the device installed for seven months to a year.
A first-time offender with a BAC of .15 percent of more would receive a 7- to 12-month suspension but could apply to have a device installed after 90 days.
In any event, licenses would be suspended for 10 days to allow for rental and installation of the device.
A person with a second DWI would see his or her license suspended for two to four years, instead of two years, and a person with a third DWI will have his or her license suspended for 10 to 20 years, instead of the current 10 years. A judge could order a device to be installed for an additional period following the suspension.
If a device detects alcohol in a driver attempting to start his or her car during the last one-third of the mandated use period, a judge could increase that time by one-third of the original time period.
Scutari said that if a driver cannot afford to rent a device or does not want to pay for one, he or she would have to continue to have his or her license suspended, as is required under current law.
The legislation received generally positive reviews during the hearing.
Cathleen Lewis, director of public affairs and government relations for the New Jersey chapter of the American Automobile Association, suggested that the measure be extended to truck drivers, who can be convicted of DWI if they have a BAC of .04 percent.
“Ignition interlocking devices change behavior,” she said.
The legislation was written with advice from the Washington, D.C.-based Coalition of Ignition Interlock Manufacturers.
Jack Dalton, the coalition’s director of public policy, told the committee that the average cost for renting a device is about $75 to $100 a month. Depending on state rules, most of the rental fee goes to the manufacturer, while a smaller portion goes into a state-operated fund to help indigent drivers pay.
Responding to questions from Sen. Robert Smith, D-Middlesex, Dalton said that in cases where there is more than one car available to a convicted drunken driver, the driver will have to designate one car that he or she drives. A drunken driver who is caught using a car not equipped with an interlock device can have his license suspended and lose the right to use the device.
Smith asked whether a driver who has been drinking could fool the machine by having someone who had not been drinking blow into the device. Dalton said the driver must blow into the machine again five to 10 minutes after the engine has started, and again in intervals of every 20 to 40 minutes thereafter.
The Administrative Office of the Courts has some concerns about the bill, said Daniel Phillips, its director of legislative affairs. Chief among them is the lack of supervision in the installation and maintenance of the devices. Most states, he said, have an agency responsible for ensuring that the devices are installed and used properly. “Here, we’re putting faith in the drivers,” he said.
The New Jersey State Bar Association had opposed the bill but its legislative director, Todd Sidor, said the bar has dropped its opposition because the bill has deleted language requiring the installation of a placard on the car’s license plate stating that the driver is using a device. Also removed were enhanced penalties for driving drunk in a school zone.