New Jersey Drunk Driving Legislation Calls for Mandatory Ignition Interlocks for DWI Offenders

Future convictions for driving under the influence of alcohol could result in the offender’s vehicle being fitted with a type of breathalyzer-ignition interlock device if drunk driving legislation in Trenton continues to move foward. The specter of ignition interlocks for nearly all DWI offenses has been raised this time with the help of three New Jersey assemblymen, Gordon Johnson, Nelson Albano and Patrick Diegnan.

Under the proposed legislation (A-3073), any person convicted of a second, third or subsequent DWI offense would be required to have an ignition interlock device installed on all vehicles they either lease or own, or any vehicle that the person would operate for work, or other purposes, during their driver’s license suspension period.

Even first offenders would be affected. If a person convicted of a first-time DWI had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.15 percent or higher, the law would require the offender to have the device installed on his or her vehicle. In addition, the current legislation calls for the device to remain installed for six to 12 months following restoration of the individual’s driver’s license. The courts would retain discretion as provided under current law to require installation of the device for all other first offenders.

The measure going through the state legislature is known as “Ricci’s Law,” in honor of a young Egg Harbor Township teen who died from injuries sustained when a hit-and-run drunk driver struck a group of friends riding their bicycles. When caught, the driver’s BAC was recorded at 0.339 percent — more than four times the state’s legal limit of 0.08 percent.

Ignition interlocks are devices similar to a breathalyzer that can be installed on the steering column and wired into the ignition of a motor vehicle. To start the vehicle, the driver must first blow into the device. If the interlock registers above a specified BAC — typically 0.02 percent or 0.04 percent — the vehicle will be rendered inoperable.

For repair and safety purposes, the device allows an individual other than the driver to start the vehicle, however only if the owner does not operate the vehicle himself. Under current law doing so is a disorderly persons offense and carries fines of up to $1,000.

As a New Jersey DWI defense lawyer, I have successfully represented many clients facing drunk driving charges. If you or someone you know has been accused of DWI or breath test refusal, the attorneys at the Law Offices of John F. Marshal are available 24/7 to protect your rights. Contact us for a free initial consultation at 877-450-8301.

ALBANO/DIEGNAN/JOHNSON BILL REQUIRING IGNITION BREATHALYZER FOR ALL DUI CONVICTIONS ADVANCES, PolitickerNJ.com, June 8, 2009