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  • By: Kevin Leckerman, Esq.
  • Published: April 1, 2011
A gavel and a court balance - Leckerman Law, LLC

On January 14, 2010, the Governor of New Jersey signed into effect a new law for all DWI offenders concerning the ignition interlock device.  This device requires that a driver blow into an attachment linked to a vehicle’s ignition before the vehicle can be started.  If there is a certain level of alcohol in the breath sample, then the vehicle cannot be started.

Unlike the past law, the new one requires that all second, third, and subsequent DWI offenders place an ignition interlock device on any vehicle “principally operated” by the offender.  Previously, a judge was required to either order the installation of an interlock device or order the suspension of vehicle registration privileges.  Moreover, for first time offenders, the judge must now order the installation of the device if the offender had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .15% or higher.

Aside from these amendments, the period of installation has increased. Previously, the period of installation was 6-12 months for first time offenders and 1-3 years for second and subsequent offenders.  Now, the installation time will last for as long as the license suspension period and then for an additional period after the driver gets the license privileges restored.  For example, a first time offender with a 7 month license suspension will have to install an interlock device on the vehicle for 7 months, plus an additional 6-12 months after getting the license back.  For a second offender, the device must be installed during the 2 year suspension period and then 1-3 years after the license is restored. For a third offender, the device must be installed for 10 years and then 1-3 years following the restoration of the license.

The amendments also address where the installation of the device must occur.  The prior law required that a driver have it installed in every vehicle owned, used or regularly operated.  Consequently, the driver had to install a device on all private vehicles and work vehicles, whether or not the driver owned it.  The new law only mandates that the driver place the device on a car principally operated.  The term “principally operated” does not have a clear definition. Therefore, it remains to be seen which vehicles require the installation.

Unfortunately, this new law assesses, in effect, added expenses for the installation and maintenance of the interlock device. The cost for the device can be over $100 a month.  Finally, the driver will have to find a way of getting the car to the interlock device service provider on a monthly basis for calibration of the device.

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