New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed legislation in August 2019 that expands the use of ignition interlock devices (IIDs) after a driving while intoxicated (DWI) conviction. Specifically, the law expands the ignition interlock device requirement to all offenders, including all first-time offenders, not just those with a high blood alcohol content (BAC).
S824 will take effect by January 1, 2020. The new law expands the use of IIDs and reduces the length of suspensions. It should also reduce forfeitures. The idea is to reduce the number of repeat offenders while allowing people to continue working to support themselves and their families.
Lawmakers know that a majority of drunk drivers, including first-time offenders, often continue to drive with suspended licenses, so they can get to work, pick up the kids, etc. They determined that ignition interlock devices are more effective in deterring drunk driving than license suspensions.
The Details of S824
Under the new law, if you’re convicted of a DWI, you will be subject to new rules:
- If you’re a first time offender with a BAC of 0.08% to 0.10%, you will be required to have an IID installed in your vehicle for three months.
- If you are a first time or subsequent offender with a BAC of 0.10% to 0.15%, you will be required to have an IID installed in your vehicle for seven to 12 months.
- Your license suspension will be reduced from the mandatory 45 days down to the time required for installing the IID. (In many cases, this is just a few days,)
- If you’re a first time offender with a BAC above 0.15% you will have your license suspended for four to six months, and must have an IID installed during and after the suspension for nine to 15 months.
- Current law mandates a one-year driver’s license suspension for failing to install a required IID. The new law increases that suspension to 18 months.
If You Move Out of State
If you used to live in New Jersey and got a DWI and were required to get an ignition interlock device, but you now live out of state, you are not off the hook. The New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) says your license is still suspended in New Jersey, and failure to get the IID installed may keep you from getting a license in your new state of residence. The FAQs on ignition interlock devices of the MVC states the following:
“In order to comply with the interlock limitation requirements while living in your current location, you may check the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) website for a list of manufacturers. Call each of the manufacturers to find out which one does business at a location near you. Go to that location with your letter from the New Jersey MVC and have the device installed on the vehicle you will principally operate. Once the device is installed, mail copies of any receipts and other documentation that you receive from the installer to the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission, Driver Management Bureau, PO Box 134, Trenton, NJ, 08650, Attention: Interlock Compliance”.
If You Are Licensed and Live in Another State
If you are licensed and live in another state, the state of New Jersey cannot force you to install an ignition interlock device in your car after a DWI conviction. However, the state of New Jersey may notify your home state DMV/DOT. You will need to check with your state DMV to determine what will happen in your case and if they will require you to install an IID.
The state of New Jersey can, however, require you to install an ignition interlock device in any vehicle that you drive within the state of New Jersey. Since the ignition interlock requirement is ordered by the court, even if you live out of state, you should get the device installed. The reason? Unless you show proof to the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) that you got the device installed, your driving privileges in New Jersey will still remain suspended. When you go to get your home state license renewed, your state DMV/DOT will run your information through the National Driver Register, which will show a suspension of your New Jersey driving privileges. As a result, your state will most likely not allow you to renew your license until you clear the New Jersey suspension.
New Jersey joins 33 states and Washington DC with mandated all offender ignition interlock laws.