Under the new DWI law that went into effect in December of 2019, an ignition interlock device is now mandated as a penalty for almost every DWI sentence. Whether it’s a first or a repeat offense, the length of time that you need to have one installed can vary, and whether one can drive once installed is also a variable which will depend on the person’s record (whether this is a first, second or third offense), as well as their blood alcohol content. Additional considerations can include whether the driver refused a breathalyzer or if drugs was involved in causing impairment.
There are various factors that can impact whether one can drive with an interlock device and for how long one will have to have it installed. There’s also a provision for those individuals who do not own a motor vehicle. Such individuals can have a prompt license suspension rather than an ignition interlock requirement in most circumstances. The circumstances for New Jersey drivers is considerably better than it was before 2019, but can still be complicated especially for first-time offenders. It is important to understand your exposure which is based on so many factors that can impact it. For those reasons, speaking to a New Jersey DWI lawyer from The Kugel Law Firm as soon as possible is crucial.
Ignition Interlock Devices in New Jersey
An ignition interlock device is mounted on the dashboard in front of the passenger seat. It is connected to the car’s ignition system and designed to prevent the vehicle from starting if alcohol is detected on the driver’s breath. Before starting the engine, the driver must blow into the device and provide a breath sample. While the engine is running, the device will intermittently prompt the driver to submit additional breath samples to verify that there is no alcohol in the driver’s system.
Every motor vehicle owned, operated, or leased by a DUI offender in New Jersey must have an ignition interlock device installed until the court-ordered license suspension period expires. Upon being sentenced to install an ignition interlock device, the offender receives a suspension notice from the Motor Vehicle Commission containing instructions for obtaining the device.
The ignition interlock device must remain functional in the offender’s vehicle during and after the license suspension period, which is a minimum of six months to one year for a first DWI conviction and a minimum of one to three years for subsequent convictions. If the convicted person wishes to remove the device from their vehicle, they must surrender their driver’s license.
|Ignition Interlock Devices in New Jersey||Description|
|Purpose and Function||An ignition interlock device is installed in the car’s dashboard to prevent the vehicle from starting if alcohol is detected on the driver’s breath. It requires breath samples before starting and while driving.|
|Mandatory Installation||DUI offenders in New Jersey must install an ignition interlock device in every vehicle they own, operate, or lease during their court-ordered license suspension period.|
|License Suspension Period||The license suspension period varies based on DWI convictions: six months to one year for a first conviction and one to three years for subsequent convictions.|
|Device Maintenance and Functionality||The ignition interlock device must remain functional throughout the suspension period. It periodically prompts the driver to provide breath samples while the engine is running.|
|Removal and License Surrender||If a convicted person wishes to remove the device, they must surrender their driver’s license. Operating a vehicle without the device during the specified period leads to license suspension and penalties.|
Can An Ignition Interlock Device Not be Required for a First Conviction of DUI?
In New Jersey, even a first conviction of DUI can lead to the mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device (IID). Since 2019, the state has implemented a DWI law requiring the installation and use of IIDs for all individuals charged with drunk driving, even on their first offense. This means that a person convicted of DUI in New Jersey may be mandated to use an IID if their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.10 percent or higher or if they refuse a breathalyzer test during a traffic stop.
The duration of the IID requirement varies depending on the BAC level for first-time offenders. Those with a BAC between 0.10-0.15 percent must use the IID for seven months to a year. For offenders with a BAC of 0.15 percent or higher, they can be required to install an IID in their primary vehicle during the license suspension period, which can last from 4 to 6 months. Additionally, they must continue using the IID for 9 to 15 months even after their license is restored.
The mandatory installation of the IID helps to reduce license suspensions for individuals charged with drunk driving while ensuring they do not drive under the influence. The New Jersey government and legislature view ignition interlock devices as a more effective alternative to combat drunk driving fatalities compared to extended license suspensions. By requiring IIDs, individuals convicted of a DUI can still use their vehicles for essential purposes, such as work, while being closely monitored to prevent intoxicated driving.
How an Experienced New Jersey DUI Attorney Can Help
Operating any vehicle that does not have an ignition interlock device before the indicated period is over is prohibited under New Jersey’s DWI law. Failure to comply with the rules may result in the offender’s driver’s license being suspended for one year and other penalties as applicable by law.
At The Kugel Law Firm, our skilled New Jersey DWI attorneys, led by top-rated DWI attorney Rachel Kugel, can assist you if you have been ordered to install an IID device as part of your conviction. Our attorneys have the experience and knowledge needed to walk you through your rights and responsibilities and advocate for your best interests. To learn more about how we can help, contact us today at (973) 854-0098 to schedule a consultation.