Articles Posted in Ignition Interlock & IDRC

For those who follow New Jersey drunken driving law, there was an interesting article earlier this year reporting the state’s Bar Associate desire to effect a change in the statement used when advising motorists of the penalty for refusing a breath test associate with a drunken driving arrest. Based on the news reports we ran across, this apparently grew out of the drunken driving case of Assemblyman Paul Moriarty last year.

As New Jersey DWI defense attorneys, we know full well how many motorists are caught up in drunk driving arrests each year. Many of these people may not have known that they were legally drink at the time of the arrest, while others believe wholeheartedly that the charges against them are without grounds. Whatever the situation, our job as qualified drunken driving defense lawyers is to represent these individuals in a court of law and help them fight the accusations leveled against them.

For some drivers, being accused of driving while intoxicated can mean they will be asked to take a breathalyzer test to measure their blood-alcohol concentration — the legal limit for which is 0.08 percent here in the Garden State. Some people do not want to have their breath analyzed and so they have the choice to refuse to have a sample taken. But this is not such a simple issue as it may seem.
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The New Jersey State Senate recently set in motion a bill that if made into law would require any DWI offender — even first-timers — to have an ignition interlock device installed on his or her vehicle as a mandatory condition of their sentencing. According to news articles the new legislation, if passed, would amend the state’s DWI laws to include wording requiring all convicted drunken driving offenders to have an ignition interlock installed in their cars for varying lengths of time.

As New Jersey drunk driving defense lawyers, my colleagues and I have worked for many years helping motorists who have been charged with DWI- and DUI-related offenses. We understand how a single indiscretion can lead to an expensive, inconvenient, embarrassing and often life-changing drunken driving conviction. In fact, numerous personal and professional relationships have been damaged or outright ruined as the result of a conviction for operating a motor vehicle while impaired by alcohol, doctor-prescribed medicines, or even an illicit (read: a controlled dangerous substance [CDS]) drug like marijuana or cocaine.

Having worked in this field for many years, both as a defense lawyer and as a municipal prosecuting attorney, I have a deep understanding of the strategies and tactics that the attorneys for the state employ to secure a conviction. My goal, and that of my legal team, is to provide the best possible defense for those individuals who believe that they have been falsely accused of drunken driving, drug DUI or breath test refusal. Whatever the cause of the DWI-DUI charges, a qualified DWI defense lawyer must consider all the facts in order to help his or her client achieve a just outcome.
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As we’ve stated previously, those who follow the news, here in New Jersey, know that drunk driving arrests are pretty much a part of the automotive landscape. Considering the various scenarios that can result in a motorist being arrested, charged and tried for operating their car or truck while under the influence of alcohol or doctor-prescribed medication (drug DUI), we as DWI defense lawyers understand how seemingly law-abiding citizens can find themselves in a courtroom trying to explain how they never realized they were drunk in the first place. It’s not an easy road.

For every driver who is stopped for an apparently minor traffic violation there is always the chance that he or she may be served with a summons for drunken driving. These encounters with state and local police are just a precursor to that inevitable appearance before a municipal or county judge. To expect leniency is piling hope upon hope, which rarely works in the real world of DWI law. If nothing else, the years of anti-DWI messages and physical enforcement should tell anyone accused of driving while intoxicated that the police and the courts hold a very dim view of individual whom they believe are DWI offenders.

Whether one is charged with impairment based on consuming alcohol, prescription drugs or even illegal substances such as cocaine, meth or marijuana, the course should be clear; walking into a courtroom unprepared is not a strategy for success. At the very minimum, one should consult with a qualified DWI/DUI defense attorney to better understand the situation and options going forward.
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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.
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In many states, the Garden State included, ignition interlocks can be ordered installed in vehicles used by convicted drunken driving offenders as a way of keeping intoxicated drivers off the road. While some people oppose these types of laws, traffic safety and anti-drunk driving supporters maintain that mandatory ignition interlocks are a good thing.

As New Jersey DWI defense lawyers, my staff is well aware of the fines and penalties associated with a drunk driving conviction. In addition to court fees and punitive fines, motorists charged with driving while intoxicated by alcohol or prescription drugs (drug DUI) can also end up paying inflated car insurance premiums and even face jail time for multiple offenses.

One of the legal judgments that can come down from the bench following a DWI conviction is the mandatory installation of an ignition interlock onto a convicted drunk driver’s vehicle. The types of devices are designed to prevent the starting of a vehicle if the operator has a blood-alcohol content (BAC) exceeding a certain value. Akin to a mini breathalyzer, an ignition interlock device will disable a car or truck’s starting system if the unit detects alcohol on the driver’s breath.

A short time ago, Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court overturned a ruling that resulted from a legal challenge to that state’s law regarding the use of ignition interlock devices. Based on news reports, the ruling not only closed a loophole in state law, it also clarified the application of ignition interlocks in DWI cases.
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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.

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