When Is an Ignition Interlock Device Mandatory After a New Jersey DWI?

New Jersey law imposes numerous penalties for driving while intoxicated (DWI) and related offenses. Penalties like fines, jail time, and driver’s license suspension are fairly well known. Since late 2019, the penalties for all DWI convictions include mandatory use of an ignition interlock device (IID). People with DWI and other convictions must have an IID installed in their vehicle in order to reinstate their license. Interfering with or trying to get around an IID is a separate offense under New Jersey law that can bring additional penalties. This post reviews when state law requires the use of an IID, how long a person must use it after their conviction, and when they may have it removed.

What Is an Ignition Interlock Device?

An IID is a breathalyzer device that attaches to the steering column of a vehicle. A person must blow into the device in order to start the vehicle’s engine. If the breath sample exceeds a certain blood alcohol content (BAC), the IID stops the ignition from sending a signal to the starter, meaning that the vehicle cannot start.

The BAC level at which IIDs prevent ignition is 0.05 percent in New Jersey. Note that this is lower than the “legal limit” of 0.08 percent, at which the law presumes a person is too impaired to drive.

When Is an Ignition Interlock Device Required?

An IID is required for all DWI convictions in New Jersey, as well as convictions for refusal to submit to breath testing. You must have one installed in your vehicle by the time your license suspension period ends, although a court may order you to have one installed earlier than that.

The length of time an IID is required varies depending on BAC for a first-time DWI conviction:
– Less than 0.10 percent: Three months
– At least 0.10 percent but below 0.15 percent: Seven to twelve months
– 0.15 percent or more: Nine to fifteen months

Other convictions have the following mandatory periods of IID use:
– Second or subsequent DWI: Two to four years
– First refusal: Nine to fifteen months
– Second or subsequent refusal: Two to four years

A court can order you not to drive any vehicle other than the one with the IID installed. It is a disorderly persons offense to disable an IID, or to blow into someone else’s IID in order to start their car for them.

How Much Does an Ignition Interlock Device Cost?

You must pay an installation fee, followed by a monthly leasing fee to the licensed vendor who installed the IID. The monthly fee is usually $75 to $100. Reduced fees are possible for low-income individuals.

When Can I Get My Ignition Interlock Device Removed?

Once the period of mandatory IID use is over, the licensed installer must certify that:
– You followed all of the procedures for using and maintaining the device; and
– You did not have a test that showed BAC of 0.08 percent or more during the last thirty days of the installation period.
The installer can remove the IID once you have submitted this certification to the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission.

DWI attorney Evan Levow advocates for the rights of people who have been charged with alleged DWI charges in the municipal courts of New Jersey. He can help you navigate the court system, advise you of your rights and options, and defend you against the state’s allegations. Please contact us online or at (877) 593-1717 today to schedule a free, confidential consultation to discuss your case.

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