New Jersey lawmakers have advanced a bill to allow all convicted drunken drivers the option of having ignition interlock devices installed in their cars as an alternative to license revocation. The Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously recommended passage of S-385.
The legislation would make an interlock device available to all persons convicted of drunk driving with the length to be determined by numerous factors including but not limited to the number of offenses and the blood-alcohol content underlying them. An interlock device is similar to a Breathalyzer with is installed on the dashboard of your car. A breath sample is required to start the vehicle and if any alcohol is detected, the engine will not start.
Under S-385, first-time offenders with a blood-alcohol content of .08 percent, the legal limit for intoxication, to .10 percent would have the device installed from three to six months at the discretion of the sentencing judge. A driver with a BAC between .10 percent and .15 percent would have the device installed for seven months to a year. Anyone with a BAC of over .15 would draw a license suspension of 90 days and then would be allowed to apply for permission to use the interlock.
In any event, licenses would be suspended for 10 days to allow for rental and installation of the device.
For persons convicted of a second DWI, the device would be required for an additional two to four years. For third-time offenders, the time would increase from 10 to 20 years, depending on the judge’s discretion, after a license has been suspended for 90 days.
If a device detects alcohol in a driver attempting to start his or her car during the last one-third of the mandated use period, a judge could increase that time by one-third of the original time period.