Mississippi has added its name to the list of states now requiring ignition interlock devices (IIDs) for all DWI offenders, even first-time convicted drunken drivers. New Jersey is waiting in the wings right now, as legislators in Trenton hash things out regarding the state’s mandatory IID law. While the debate regarding IIDs has come from both sides of the aisle, some still feel that the Garden State’s approach to drunk drivers may be a little too accommodating.
When it comes to potential changes in New Jersey’s DWI laws, the proposed change to a “brief” 10-day license suspension, plus immediate and mandatory installation of an IID post-conviction has been regarded as a better solution to the current situation, which requires several months’ worth of suspension time that many argue has the potential to cause serious career, family and financial repercussions while not fully addressing the very real issue of convicted DWI offenders taking to the street sans driver’s license.
As New Jersey DWI defense attorneys, my firm has seen more than enough instances of otherwise law-abiding motorists being stripped of their driving privileges as punishment for even a first-time indiscretion. We fully understand the risks and physical dangers of driving while impaired, but more and more people are beginning to accept the potential changes in our drunk driving laws to include mandatory IIDs in lieu of the rather strict punitive measures currently required by the New Jersey legal statutes.
Down South it would seem that the realization has already taken hold. According to news reports, Mississippi’s newly enacted legislation has been referred to as the state’s “lifesaving DUI law.” The anti-drunk driving group, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), is even taking up the banner for this major chance in the way convicted DUI offenders are treated after the fact.
Representatives from MADD have stated that Mississippi’s new law is a key victory in the group’s effort to eliminate drunken driving. Just as in Mississippi and here in New Jersey, MADD has focused its efforts on promoting mandatory IID-related legislation throughout all 50 states.
Down in Mississippi, HB 412 was passed into law, superseding the former rule that left IID installation on a convicted defendant’s vehicle solely up to the discretion of the presiding judge. The new law now requires the installation and use of an IID for a minimum of 90 days following a first-time DWI conviction; and a minimum of one year IID use for those individuals who are convicted of a repeat offense. This covers situations where defendants who registered a 0.08 percent or greater blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) wish to retain their driving privileges during the license suspension period, or for those motorists who apply for non-adjudication following a DWI arrest.
So far, the states of Alabama, Delaware, Mississippi and New Hampshire have enacted mandatory IID laws this year. In addition to the Garden State, similar legislation is currently pending in both Ohio and Pennsylvania. In total, as of this past August, 21 states have mandatory IID provisions on the books.
New DUI law takes effect in Mississippi, MSNewsNow.com, October 1, 2014