New Legislation Would Allow Convicted DWI/DUI Offenders to Continue Driving with Interlock Devices
A major overhaul of the penalties for drunk driving in New Jersey is on the horizon. A bill pending before the New Jersey Legislature would, if passed and signed by the governor, give individuals convicted of drunk driving the option of having an ignition interlock devices installed on their car instead of having their driver's licenses suspended. Under the current law, a first time offender convicted of drunk driving with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) between .08% and .10% would be subject to a driver's license suspension for a minimum of 3 months. A first time offender convicted of drunk driving with a BAC between .10% and .15% would be subject to a driver's license suspension for a minimum of 7 months. A first time offender convicted of drunk driving with a BAC of .15% or higher would be subject to a driver's license suspension for a minimum of 7 months plus the mandatory installation of an interlock device in his car. By way of background, an interlock device requires the operator of a motor vehicle to breathe into the device prior to operating the vehicle. The interlock device prevents the operation of the motor vehicle if it detects a certain concentration of alcohol on the driver's breath. At the moment, an individual convicted of drunk driving for a second time is subject to a driver's license suspension for a minimum of two years, plus the mandatory installation of an interlock device. An individual convicted of drunk driving for a third time is subject to a driver's license suspension for a minimum of ten year, mandatory imprisonment for 180 days and installation of an interlock device. The pending proposed legislation would allow first-time offenders with a BAC between .08% and .10% the option of having an interlock device installed for a period of three to six months at the discretion of the judge, and a driver with a BAC between .10 %and .15% would have the device installed for seven months to a year at the discretion of the judge. Anyone with a BAC of over .15% would face a mandatory license suspension for 90 days and then would be allowed to apply for the installation of an interlock device. In any event, all convicted offenders' licenses would be suspended for a period of ten (10) days to allow for the rental and installation of the interlock device. Penalties naturally increase for subsequent offenses. Someone convicted of a second DWI would be required to have the interlock device installed for an additional two (2) to four (4) years. A third-time offender would be required to have the interlock device installed for ten (10) to twenty (20) years, again, at the discretion of the judge. If the interlock device detects alcohol during the last one-third of the mandated use period, a judge could increase that time by one-third of the original time period. Finally, if a driver cannot afford to rent an interlock device or does not want to pay for one, he or she would have to continue to have his or her license suspended as is required under current law. Interlock devices aren't cheap; they cost approximately $75 to $100 per month to rent and the driver must blow into the device prior to operation the vehicle. The driver must also blow into the device five (5) to ten (10) minutes after the engine has started and in intervals of every twenty (20) to forty (40) minutes thereafter. Still, the cost associated with renting an interlock device is still cheaper than losing one's job due to transportation issues engendered by an extended driver's license suspension. We're here to help you navigate this process, and we'll continue to keep you updated of any changes in the law. If you or a loved one needs strong representation in a municipal court in New Jersey, contact the municipal court defense lawyers at DeMichele & DeMichele today. We are here to defend the charges against you. Contact us now for your confidential and free initial consultation. You can also reach us by telephone (856) 546-1350. Don't just plead guilty and risk your driving privilege or driving record.