New Jersey DWI Attorney John Menzel

What Are Ignition Interlock Devices Intended To Do?


Ignition interlock devices are devices that are installed in cars or other vehicles. Their purpose is to receive a breath sample and to make sure that the driver of the car does not have a breath alcohol content above a certain preset threshold, usually 0.05%. If the device detects a breath alcohol content above that level, it won’t let you drive.

Who Is Required To Install An Ignition Interlock Device In Their Car In New Jersey?

Anyone convicted of DWI or refusal would be required to have an alcohol ignition interlock installed as an additional punishment. That period of alcohol ignition interlock restriction would begin at the end of the mandatory full license revocation, required under our statutes. The only exception is for first offenders that have a blood alcohol content of less than 0.15. For those people, whether the interlock is installed or not is a function of the judge’s discretion.

How Does Someone Become Aware Of The Fact That They Have To Install This Device?

Some may know that they have to install this device from the news media; others should learn of it when they talk to their attorneys about it. The judge will tell them what their exposure is to an interlock during the arraignment. Most people don’t even think about it unless they get charged with drunk driving.

How Do Prior DUI Convictions Impact The Installation Time Of Ignition Interlock Devices?

For second or subsequent offenders, the period of interlock is no less than one year and no more than three years, beginning when their driving privilege revocation ends. For first offenders, it’s a period of no less than 6 months and no more than 12 months. You’ll also hear many judges tell people that they need to have the alcohol ignition interlock installed in whatever cars they have during the time in which their driving privileges are revoked. However, the New Jersey statute is rather poorly written, because it is borrowed from jurisdictions where the interlock is used as an alternative to revocation rather than as an additional punishment as it is in New Jersey.

Consequently, there are parts of the law that just don’t make sense. For example, the law says, at least for first offenders, that the interlock must be installed in whatever vehicle the person principally operates for the period of revocation. The problem is that, of course, if you are a law-abiding citizen, you are not principally operating any vehicle during that period of revocation. Because of this problem, as a matter of policy, the Motor Vehicle Commission in New Jersey doesn’t check and see if interlocks are installed while people are revoked. They only seek evidence that, upon restoration of their license, they have a vehicle available to them with the interlock installed.

How Much Does The Ignition Interlock Device Cost?

There is a cost range for the ignition interlock. Fortunately, we have several providers here in New Jersey, whose names and locations are listed on New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission’s website. It pays to shop around, because different companies have different deals. Some will charge for installation and de-installation, usually between $75 and $125; others don’t. Some companies will charge a monthly fee for interlocks, which ranges between $75 and $100 currently. All this is subject to change, depending on market conditions. But it does pay to shop around. Sometimes you can get a decent deal, but you can look forward to paying between $75 and $100 a month for the interlock, and potentially pay for installation and de-installation on top of that.

Can Someone Get An Ignition Interlock Device Removed Early From Their Vehicle?

In New Jersey, the requirement is only to have the device installed. There is currently no system for monitoring that. Someone could get his or her license reinstated by showing the Motor Vehicle Commission a certificate from the installer that a device has been placed in the vehicle. As soon as they get their license restored, they can have the interlock taken out. If they choose to drive a vehicle without an interlock, they face a risk of certain consequences if they get caught during the period of restriction. That’s not something I would generally advise doing, unless they live outside of New Jersey.

What Happens If Someone Owns Multiple Vehicles?

For first offenders, the law states that the interlock need only be installed on those vehicles or that vehicle which the person customarily operates. But for second or subsequent offenders, the law requires that an interlock be installed on every vehicle owned or leased by the person, which can be an enormous expense. If you’re going to have that many vehicles, maybe you are in a better position to handle that expense. I haven’t seen the Motor Vehicle Commission enforcing that provision, as long as one vehicle is shown to have the interlock. But that’s the way our statutes are written here in New Jersey.

For more information on Ignition Interlock Devices In New Jersey, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (732) 899-1899 today.

John Menzel, J.D.

Learn your options - call me for your free, 20 min phone consultation (732) 899-1899

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