“Alcohol Restricted Driver” Laws in Some States Impose Substantial Restrictions on People with DWI Convictions

By SubDural12 (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia CommonsNew Jersey’s legal system has developed several methods to discourage people with convictions for driving while intoxicated (DWI) and related offenses from getting behind the wheel after drinking. Along with every other state and the District of Columbia, New Jersey requires the use of ignition interlock devices (IIDs) in certain situations. At least one state has gone much further in restricting people with convictions, or even just arrests, for DWI and other offenses. Utah’s “alcohol restricted driver” (ARD) law prohibits drivers from operating a vehicle with any alcohol in their system for periods ranging from two to ten years, with a lifetime ban in some circumstances.

In order to start a vehicle equipped with an IID, the person must blow into the device, which operates much like a breathalyzer or other breath-test machine. If the device determines that the driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) is above a threshold amount, which is usually 0.05 percent in New Jersey, it prevents the vehicle from starting for a period of several hours. The “legal limit” for DWI is 0.08 percent.

New Jersey’s DWI statute makes installation of an IID mandatory for offenses involving a BAC result of 0.15 percent or higher, as well as first-offense convictions for refusal to submit to chemical testing. A judge has discretion to order an IID for lesser offenses. Driving with a BAC above the IID amount, but below the legal limit of 0.08 percent, is not automatically a violation under New Jersey law, but any attempt to circumvent the IID, including by driving someone else’s car after drinking, is considered a violation.

Utah takes an even harsher position toward driving after a DWI conviction. The ARD law applies to people who have been convicted of DWI, refusal to submit to a chemical test, violating an IID order, and other related offenses, as well as people who have had their licenses suspended for DWI-related arrests. Its restrictions are often paired with an IID requirement.

The ARD law prohibits anyone subject to its restrictions from operating a motor vehicle with “any measurable or detectable amount of alcohol in [their] body.” It allows the state to establish the presence of a “measurable or detectable amount” through chemical test results, “evidence other than a chemical test,” or some combination of the two.

Utah courts appear to have given broad discretion to law enforcement regarding the ARD. In a 2013 decision, State v. Adamson, the Utah Court of Appeals ruled that police were justified in conducting a field sobriety test of the defendant despite having no reasonable suspicion of DWI. A computer check showed that the defendant was subject to the ARD law and was required to have an IID. Since the officers observed the absence of an IID, the court held, they were justified in expanding the scope of the traffic stop.

A DWI arrest can have a profound impact on your life, even if you are never convicted of, or even charged with, an offense. A knowledgeable and skilled DWI attorney can help you understand your rights and defend your interests. At Levow & Associates, we have dedicated 100% of our law practice to the defense of New Jersey DWI cases. We are available to help you 24/7. To schedule a free and confidential consultation with a member of our team, please contact us online or at (877) 975-3399.

More Blog Posts:

Proposed Legislation Would Bar Alcohol Purchases After DWI Arrests, New Jersey DWI Attorney Blog, January 23, 2015

Ignition Interlock Devices Would Be Required in All New Jersey DWI Convictions Under Proposed State Senate Bill, New Jersey DWI Attorney Blog, November 28, 2014

Second or Third DWI Convictions in New Jersey Do Not Always Result in Enhanced Penalties, New Jersey DWI Attorney Blog, August 1, 2014

Photo credit: By SubDural12 (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.