New Jersey’s implied consent law makes it a traffic offense to refuse to submit a breath sample during a driving while intoxicated (DWI) investigation. Because of the wide range of possible consequences for refusal, state law requires police to read a “standard statement” detailing those consequences before requesting a breath sample. Several years ago, the New Jersey Legislature made the use of an ignition interlock device (IID) mandatory for certain DWI and refusal convictions. A DWI defendant recently argued to the New Jersey Superior Court, Appellate Division that her refusal conviction should be thrown out because the standard statement in use at the time did not mention required IID use. The court ruled against the defendant in State v. Monaco but offered an overview of when a defective notification should result in relief for a defendant.
An IID is a device that attaches to a car’s ignition mechanism. In order to start the car, the driver must blow into the device, which measures their blood alcohol concentration (BAC). If the person’s BAC is above a certain amount, the IID prevents the car from starting. An IID must be professionally installed, and the defendant must bear the cost of the device in order to retain their driving privileges. Failing to install an IID as ordered, tampering with an IID, or otherwise circumventing or attempting to circumvent the device is a separate offense.
For a first DWI offense, an IID is required if the defendant’s BAC was 0.15 percent or higher, and it must be used for a period of six months to one year after the end of the license suspension. A conviction for refusal requires an IID installation for the same length of time. A second or subsequent DWI offense requires an IID installation for one to three years after the suspension period ends, regardless of BAC.