If you’ve read recent news reports, you already know one way that drunk driving penalties have changed in New Jersey. From all appearances, the mandate calling for ignition interlock devices seems to be getting the most attention. That said, the state itself still needs to update the requirements on its website.
While some consider New Jersey’s DUI laws pretty tough, the state is actually 34th in line s far as ordering that everyone convicted of drunk driving install an ignition interlock device. Prior to this new law, a judge had discretion regarding installation provided the driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) level was less than 0.15%.
A BAC level of .08% represents legal intoxication in the state of New Jersey. Notably, anyone under the age of 21 who operates a motor vehicle can be convicted of DUI for any amount of alcohol.
The decision to refuse a breath test would also mean installation on an ignition interlock device.
When an ignition interlock device is installed in a vehicle, the driver can’t start the car without breathing into the machine. The purpose is to determine the individual’s BAC before operation of the vehicle begins. Use of the device comes with an expiration date and comes with compliance with the following:
• You made no attempts to start the motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or higher unless a re-test conducted within five minutes of the initial test indicates a blood alcohol concentration of less than 0.08 percent;
• There were no failures to take or pass any test with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or higher unless a re-test conducted within five minutes of the initial test indicates a blood alcohol concentration of less than 0.08 percent; and
• You complied with all maintenance, repair, calibration, monitoring, or inspection requirements related to the interlock device.
Meanwhile, ignition interlock devices appear to be somewhat of a tradeoff. Drunk driving penalties have shifted from another area.
Drunk Driving Penalties and License Suspension
One of the legislators who promoted the concept of installing ignition interlock device is Senator Nicholas Scutari. According to a news release on the governor’s website, Scutari is in favor of the device and sees it as the “best way to safe guard our roads while also allowing minor offenders to continue their employment.”
Many may recognize Scuatari’s name as the long-time municipal prosecutor in Linden, right next to Elizabeth.
As a result of the introduction of installing ignition interlock devices, drivers will find it easier to take care of family and work obligations. In the past, first time offenders whose BAC measured between .08 percent and less than .10 percent faced a license suspension of three months.
Under the new law, the suspension period decreases to thirty days. For first time offenders at the highest BAC levels, suspension is reduced to ninety days.
The change in law may prove beneficial to your drunk driving case. At the Law Offices of Beninato & Matrafajlo, we can help you understand your charges and prepare your defense. Contact us for assistance.