New Jersey DWI Attorney John Menzel

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


Under the current law, an alcohol ignition interlock device [“AIID”] is a device most DWI offenders are required to install in their vehicles as a condition of driving privilege restoration. The interlock device 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 do everything possible to 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. Currently, the interlock is required for people who are convicted of a first offense DWIs with a reading of 0.15 or higher and all second and third DWI offenders.

Under the new law, effective December 1, 2019, all people convicted of a DWI will be required to get an AIID regardless of whether they’re a first, second, or third offender or their breath test result. The new law does modify penalties for driving privilege revocation and the AIID restriction significantly. Under current law, first offenders with a breath test result less than a .10 or with no result receive a three-month driving revocation, and those with a breath test result of .10 to .14 receive 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 is required for these first offenders. First offenders with a breath test result of .15 or higher receive the driving privilege revocation of no less than seven and no more than 12 months but 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.

Here’s what happens to first offenders 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.

Right now, we do not know how courts will deal with the initial indefinite revocation period. 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. Others believe courts will revoke the driving privilege, and the defendant would then have to arrange the installation of the AIID and then go to NJMVC to obtain a driver’s license with the AIID restriction noted thereon.

For second offenders, current law requires a two-year period of revocation followed by a period of no less than one and no more than three years with the alcohol ignition interlock. Under the new law, the revocation would be changed 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. Currently, a third offender faces 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 would be an eight-year revocation followed by a period of no less than two and no more than four years of the AIID restriction.

All other penalties remain the same. That is, all fines, requirements that one attends 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) 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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