New Jersey moved to toughen laws in 1st offense DWI cases where the defendant is guilty of driving with a high level of alcohol, indicating significant impairment.The new law will require anyone convicted of drunk driving who registered a .15 BAC on a breath test machine to have an ignition interlock device installed in his or her primary vehicle as a condition of driver’s license reinstatement.
An ignition interlock device is a system that required the driver to be tested for alcohol consumption by blowing into a small machine connected to the car’s ignition. If the interlock system detects even a small amount of alcohol, the car will not start, and a failure will be logged, which could result in additional administrative or criminal charges.
The New Jersey law is slightly more moderate than the nationwide trend of requiring IID systems for ANY first offense DWI, which many states are moving to. But the restriction to only “high BAC” 1st offenders is a reasonable compromise. If someone makes a one time mistake, and is barely over the limit, they aren’t hit with this difficult and highly disruptive penalty.
It is designed to prevent those who are most likely to re-offend, someone who was driving at nearly twice the legal limit, and not a marginal case.
There is also a movement at the national level, promoted by New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg, to require ignition interlock devices in drunk driving cases nationwide, as a condition of receiving federal highway funds.