Proposed New Jersey DWI Legislation Addresses License Suspension, Ignition Interlock Requirement

Car DashboardNew Jersey law regarding driving while intoxicated (DWI) establishes multiple penalties for a DWI conviction, including a license suspension, fines, and the installation of an ignition interlock device (IID) in some cases. The related offense of refusal to submit to breath testing and failing to install an IID as ordered also result in a license suspension. A bill currently pending in the New Jersey Legislature would modify existing state law by reducing the mandatory period of license suspension for certain offenses, while also increasing the mandatory use of an IID. Introduced in the Assembly as A4016, the bill has passed out of the Assembly Judiciary and Appropriations Committees. Its Senate counterpart, S2447, is currently awaiting action by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Under current law, the length of the mandatory license suspension for a first DWI conviction depends on the defendant’s blood alcohol content (BAC). If the BAC is at least 0.08 percent but less than 0.10 percent, state law mandates three months of license suspension. For a BAC of 0.10 percent or higher, the license suspension is at least seven months but not more than one year. A conviction for refusal results, under current law, in a license suspension of seven months to one year. A failure to install an IID as ordered by a court currently results in a one-year license suspension.

The New Jersey Legislature passed a bill in 2015 reducing the length of license suspensions in DWI and related cases, but the Governor conditionally vetoed it. The license suspension provisions of A4016/S2447 are an effort at compromise. For first-time DWI offenses, the license suspension for defendants with a BAC of at least 0.08 percent but less than 0.10 percent would be 30 days under the new bill. For a BAC of at least 0.10 percent but less than 0.15 percent, the suspension period would be 45 days. For a BAC of 0.15 percent or higher, it would be 90 days. A refusal conviction would result in a license suspension for 90 days. Unlike the other offenses, a failure to install an IID would result in an increased suspension for 18 months, instead of the current one year.

Municipal courts currently have the discretion to order the installation of an IID for first-time DWI offenders whose BAC was less than 0.15%. If a defendant’s BAC was at or higher than that amount for their first offense, current law requires the installation of an IID for six months to one year after the end of the license suspension period. For second or subsequent offenses, installation is required for one to three years after the suspension. Current law only requires the installation of a device in “the motor vehicle principally owned or operated” by the defendant.

The proposed bill makes IID installation mandatory for all DWI convictions. The mandatory period for a BAC of 0.08 percent to 0.10 percent would be three to six months, six months to one year for a BAC of 0.10 percent or higher, and 12 to 18 months for a BAC of 0.15 percent or above. It would also require the installation of a device in “each motor vehicle owned or operated, or both,” by the defendant.

If you have been charged with an alleged DWI offense in New Jersey, you should seek the assistance of an experienced and knowledgeable DWI attorney. Evan Levow can guide you through the court process and help you understand your legal rights. To schedule a free and confidential consultation with a member of our team, contact us today online or at (877) 593-1717.

More Blog Posts:

New Jersey Appellate Court Considers Police Officers’ Disclosure Requirements Regarding Ignition Interlock Devices After DWI Arrests, New Jersey DWI Attorney Blog, July 28, 2016

Ignition Interlock Devices Give DWI Defendants an Opportunity, but Also Create an Obligation, New Jersey DWI Attorney Blog, January 10, 2016

New Jersey Governor Blocks Bill that Would Lessen Some DWI Penalties, New Jersey DWI Attorney Blog, March 24, 2015

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