One More Reason How a New Jersey Drunk Driving Conviction Can Complicate One’s Life

Anyone who follows the local news in the Garden State is not a stranger to the literally dozens of DWI arrests that occur every week across the state. As defense attorneys who specialize in drunken driving and drug DUI cases, we know how an otherwise law-abiding citizen can be caught up in a DWI following a night out with friends or after a romantic evening at a nice restaurant. Nobody expects, or welcomes, a drunk driving summons, much less a night spent in a county or municipal jail, but unfortunately it happens all the time.

If one considers the many and varied scenarios that can ultimately lead to a court appearance for driving while intoxicated, there is always a chance that a drive may be pulled over for violating even the most minor traffic law and then find himself being tested for blood-alcohol content (BAC) or drug use. If decades anti-drunken driving campaigns have taught us anything, it is that the courts, law enforcement and the public at large have next to no tolerance for any driver who operates his or her vehicle while impaired due to alcohol, prescription drugs or illegal substances like marijuana and cocaine.

Under current state law, a person convicted of their first drunk driving offense MAY be required by the court to have an ignition interlock device (IID) installed on their vehicle in order to prevent a driver from starting his or her car if their BAC is over 0.05 percent. However, if that first DWI conviction was based on a proven BAC of 0.15 percent or more, then the law mandates installation of an IID during the period of license suspension as well as 6-12 months following restoration of their driving privileges. On a second or third conviction for a drunken driving offense the same applies, except that the device must remain installed from one to three years following restoration of that individual’s driver’s license.

This may sound like a burden, which it surely is for many people who are found guilty of drunk driving. But as New Jersey DWI defense lawyers, we can say that there are other costs involved with drinking and driving. According to news sources, some lawmakers are trying to make the IID current IID laws more reasonable. Based on news articles, a bill that went in front of the legislature’s Law and Public Safety Committee this past summer would eliminate the requirement of installing an IID while a convicted drunken driving offender still has his or her license suspended. The bill would also require an offender who doesn’t currently own a motor vehicle to get an IID once they do, in fact, purchase one.

This proposed legislation would eliminate one of the more criticized parts of the current IID law, that which requires a convicted DWI offender to install an IID while his license and driving privileges are still suspended; this injects a bit more logic into the law since those convicted of drunk driving are legally prevented from driving while their driver’s license is under suspension. For those who may be wondering, the IID law impacted nearly 6,000 New Jersey motorists from 2010 through June 30 of this year.

DWI ignition interlocks: safeguard or excessive punishment for first-time offenders?, APP.com, August 19, 2012