NJ Ignition Interlock Law Effects Many DWI Cases

I was interviewed by the Star Ledger today regarding the New Jersey Ignition Interlock law. The related newspaper story is to be published early next week and shall focus on the growth in the state’s ignition interlock industry. I would have to agree with the reporter concerning the growing demand for interlock devices in this state as a result of Ricci’s Law.

NJ law was significantly expanded with reference to those DWI arrests to which an ignition interlock penalty applies. The amendment to the law, commonly referred to as “Ricci’s Law”, effects all arrests after January 14, 2010. The biggest change involves mandatory installation of an ignition interlock for first time offenders convicted based on a blood alcohol concentration of .15% or higher. The new interlock law also requires installation for all individuals convicted of refusal to submit to a breath test.

My impression is that the interlock will now come into play in the majority of DWI cases filed in NJ. Indeed, it shall effect not only all multiple offenders (e.g. Second Offense, Third Offense, etc.) and all refusals, but also a large portion of those committing their First Offense (i.e. .15 reading or higher). The associated expense, which can range from approximately $750 to $1,500, is a major consideration in these cases, not to mention the intrusive effect that imposition of an interlock has on an individual’s travel. The incentive to defend a DWI charge in New Jersey clearly also experienced growth by virtue of Ricci’s law.