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.
Currently, state law prescribes different license suspension periods for four levels of offense: first DWI with BAC of 0.08 or more but less than 0.10 percent, first DWI with BAC of 0.10 percent or higher, second DWI, and third or subsequent DWI. For any offense, the period of license suspension under this bill would be limited to the amount of time it takes for a defendant to have an IID installed. If the court determines “that the public safety does not necessitate the installation of an” IID, the license suspension periods under current law would apply, with the addition of a fifth level: first DWI offense with BAC of 0.15 percent or higher. If the defendant “does not own, lease, or operate any motor vehicle,” the period of license suspension would be higher for each level.
Another Assembly bill, A3458, addresses a defendant’s driving privileges during appeal. Courts often stay the enforcement of a sentence while a case is awaiting action in an appellate court. The bill would amend the DWI and refusal statutes to require use of an IID during the stay. This bill was introduced in March 2018, but has not had a committee hearing.
If you are facing charges of alleged DWI in a New Jersey municipal court, DWI attorney Evan Levow can help you understand your legal rights and defend you against the state’s allegations. Please contact us online or at (877) 593-1717 today to schedule a free and confidential consultation with a member of our skilled and experienced team.
More Blog Posts:
Lawsuits Challenge the Constitutionality of Ignition Interlock Devices in DWI Cases, New Jersey DWI Attorney Blog, October 13, 2017
Federal Government Recommends Expanding Use of Ignition Interlock Devices in DWI Cases, New Jersey DWI Attorney Blog, August 17, 2017
Proposed New Jersey DWI Legislation Addresses License Suspension, Ignition Interlock Requirement, New Jersey DWI Attorney Blog, February 26, 2017