New Jersey DWI Attorney John Menzel

What Is An Ignition Interlock Device? What Are The New DWI Laws?


An alcohol ignition interlock device [“AIID”] is a device 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 that vehicle. The person will generally have a few minutes to submit the sample. But if they don’t do in a timely fashion then police will be notified by the commotion caused by that car.

Before December 1, 2019, the interlock was required for people who were convicted of a first offense DWIs with a reading 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 breath test result.

The new law modifies penalties for driving privilege revocation and the AIID restriction significantly. Under the former law, first offenders with a breath test result less than a .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 has discretion on whether to impose the interlock and, most often, no AIID was required for these first offenders. First offenders with a breath test result of .15 or higher received a driving privilege revocation of no less than seven and no more than 12 months with a mandatory period of no less than six months and no more than 12 months when their driving privilege is restricted to only those vehicles equipped with an AIID.

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.

Under the new law, if your 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. 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 reading of a 0.15 or higher, there is an indeterminate period during which the person’s driving privilege is revoked until they demonstrate that they have installed an AIID in a vehicle that’s available to them. Once that occurs, there is a four- to six-month period of driving privilege revocation followed by the AIID-restricted privilege for a period of no less than nine and no more than 15 months.

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, the new laws implementation is being challenged by seven cases which I have filed in the New Jersey Supreme Court. Whether the Supreme Court accepts these cases or whether those seven people must appeal through the ordinary channels–a more expensive process that could take years–remains to be seen.

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 a post-conviction supervision component not present under the old law with the AIID installer providing the supervision. Before an interlock may be removed, the installer must 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 the conditions, the installer will also provide a report to the municipal court, which has the discretion to extend the AIID period.

All other penalties remain the same. That is, all fines and assessments, requirements that one attend the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center, and whatever follow up they require remains the same. The requirement that surcharges be paid to the Motor Vehicle Commission and the various fees to the Motor Vehicle Commission and Department of Health also remain the same.

For more information on New DWI Laws In the State of New Jersey, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (732) 218-9090 today.

John Menzel, J.D.

Learn your options - call me for your free, 20 min phone consultation (732) 218-9090

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