What Is An Ignition Interlock Device? What Are The New DWI Laws?
An alcohol ignition interlock device [“AIID”] is a device that DWI offenders are required to install in their vehicles as a condition of driving privilege restoration. The AIID requires a person to blow into it in order to start their car. It then prompts them to blow into it periodically as they drive around. If they fail to do so, the device will cause the car to flash its lights, honk its horn, and draw attention to itself. The person will generally have a few minutes to submit the sample, but if they don’t do so in a timely fashion, the police will be notified by the commotion caused by that car.
Before December 1, 2019, the AIID was required for people who were convicted of a first offense DWIs with a blood or breath test result of 0.15 or higher and all second and third DWI offenders. Under the law effective December 1, 2019, all DWI offenders are required to get an AIID regardless of whether they’re a first, second, or third offender and regardless of their test result. The only exception is for first offenders convicted of operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs; the court would then revoke the driving privilege for seven to 12 months, but not impose an AIID requirement.
The new law modifies penalties for driving privilege revocation and the AIID restriction significantly. Under the former law, first offenders with a test result below .10 or with no result received a three-month driving revocation, and those with a breath test result of .10 to .14 received a driving privilege revocation of no less than seven and no more than 12 months. In either case, the court had discretion whether to impose the AIID and, most often, did not. First offenders with a breath test result of 0.15 or higher received a driving privilege revocation of no less than seven and no more than 12 months followed by a mandatory period of no less than seven and no more than 12 months when their driving privilege is restricted to only those vehicles equipped with an AIID.
Under the new law, if your blood or breath test result is less than .10 or if there is no result, that person’s driving privilege is revoked indefinitely on conviction until they demonstrate that they have a vehicle available to them with the AIID installed and obtain a physical driver’s license bearing the AIID restriction imprinted on the license. First offenders with a breath test result of between a .10 and .14 face the indefinite driving privilege revocation followed by an AIID restriction of no less than seven and no more than 12 months. For first offenders with a result of 0.15 or higher, there is indefinite driving privilege revocation ending when they demonstrate that they have installed an AIID in a vehicle that’s available to them, followed by a four- to six-month period of driving privilege revocation followed by the AIID-restricted privilege for a period of full driving privilege revocation, after which their driving privilege is restricted to only those vehicles equipped with an AIID for no less than nine and no more than 15 months.
To get the restricted license, the person must demonstrate to the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission [“NJMVC”] that they own, lease, or have available a vehicle equipped with an AIID. Only then will they get the restricted license. In practice, if one does not have a vehicle available to them, their determinate suspension becomes indeterminate. At least that is the way NJMVC currently interprets the law. That is, the person’s driving privilege would be revoked indefinitely until they demonstrate that they had a vehicle with the AIID available to them.
Based on a directive from the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC Dir. 25-19), municipal courts are directed to revoke the offenders driving privilege and take the driver’s license. Restoration of the driver’s license–i.e., the end of the indefinite driving privilege forfeiture–is dependent on the offender obtaining proof from the AIID installer then getting a new physical driver’s license from NJMVC. Some have suggested that if the defendant comes to court with the AIID already installed when they are convicted, there would be no driving privilege revocation at all. While this would appear to conform with the new law as written, I challenged the way these new laws were being implemented in seven cases by filing a motion with the New Jersey Supreme Court. That Court declined to accept these cases, which will now have to proceed as appeals through the ordinary channels–a more expensive process and time-consuming process.
For second offenders, the old law required a two-year period of revocation followed by a period of no less than one and no more than three years with the AIID. Under the new law, the revocation changes to a range of no less than one and no more than two years, followed by a period of no less than two and no more than four years of AIID restriction. Under the old law, a third offender faced a 10-year revocation of driving privileges followed by a period of no less than one and no more than three years of AIID restriction. Under the new law, there is an eight-year revocation followed by a period of no less than two and no more than four years of the AIID restriction.
The new law also introduces post-conviction supervision by the AIID installer that was not present under the old law. Before an interlock may be removed, the installer must now certify to the NJMVC that the offender has complied with all AIID maintenance requirements and has not provided a breath sample of 0.08 or higher. Failing these conditions, the installer must also provide a report to the municipal court, which has the discretion to extend the AIID period.
All other penalties–i.e., all fines and assessments, requirements that one attend the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center and whatever follow up it requires, jail and community service for second offenders, and jail for third offenders–remain the same. The requirement to pay surcharges to NJMVC and the various fees to NJMVC and the Department of Health also remain the same.
Learn your options - call me for your free, 20 min phone consultation (732) 218-9090