A conviction for driving while intoxicated (DWI) in New Jersey carries multiple penalties, including driver’s license suspension, a fine, and possible jail time. The severity of the penalties depends on the number of prior convictions or, in the case of a first offense, the defendant’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC). The penalties for DWI and refusal to submit to breath testing can also include mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device (IID) after reinstatement of a defendant’s driver’s license. Two bills currently pending in the New Jersey Assembly would expand the use of IIDs in DWI and refusal cases. One bill would reduce the period of license suspension for DWI offenses with the use of an IID. The other bill would require IID installation while a DWI or refusal sentence has been stayed pending appeal. If you have questions about the latest laws that relate to charges you might face, reach out to a New Jersey DWI attorney.
An IID is a device attached to a vehicle’s ignition mechanism. The device tests a sample of the driver’s breath to determine BAC, and prevents the vehicle from starting if BAC is above a certain level. Under current state law, municipal court judges have the discretion to order a defendant convicted of a first DWI offense to install an IID at the end of the mandatory license suspension period, provided that the defendant’s BAC was less than 0.15 percent. If BAC was 0.15 percent or higher, IID use is mandatory. For any first-time refusal conviction, IID installation is also currently mandatory. For either offense, the period of court-ordered IID use may be anywhere between six months and one year. Defendants must bear the cost of installing and maintaining an IID.
A bipartisan group of New Jersey legislators introduced A2089 in the Assembly in January 2018. The Assembly Judiciary Committee approved the bill in late November, and referred it to the Appropriations Committee. A companion bill, S824, received a favorable committee report in September. The bill would amend the DWI and refusal statutes, changing the provisions for license suspension and requiring IID installation in some cases.