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Ignition Interlock Devices in New Jersey

Experienced Lawyers Help Clients Charged with DWI Offenses Avoid Ignition Interlock Penalties in Clifton, NJ


One way in which NJ lawmakers attempted to reduce the number of drunk driving accidents – many of which result in catastrophic injuries and fatalities – way to give judges wide latitude when it came to requiring individuals convicted of DWI/DUI offenses in New Jersey to install safety devices on their vehicles. These devices are known as ignition interlock devices and they prevent a motorist from starting their car until they are able to blow a “clean” breath sample into a machine that has been connected to the vehicle ignition. Keep in mind that installation of the ignition interlock device is typically required for all of the convicted driver’s cars, so it is very difficult to get around the requirement.

No one wants to have their driving privileges restricted. That’s why it is crucial for anyone who has been charged with Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) or Breath Test Refusal in NJ to speak with a qualified DWI defense attorney as soon as possible. If you have been accused of drunk driving in Roselle, Hillside, Springfield, Paterson, Howell, or anywhere else in New Jersey, Andrew John Calcagno and his team of skilled DWI defense lawyers can help you fight the charges and avoid penalties like ignition interlock devices.

How Do Ignition Interlock Devices Work?

Once a court order requiring installation of an ignition interlock device has been issued, it is incumbent upon the DWI offender to make arrangements for the device to be attached to their car.

An ignition interlock device works much like a breathalyzer. It is used to measure a motorist’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC). The motorist must blow a breath sample into the machine, which will then read the sample and determine whether the driver is intoxicated. When the person’s BAC is greater than .05 percent, the motor vehicle will not start. (In New Jersey, the legal limit for BAC is .08 percent, but ignition interlock devices have a lower threshold.)

Additionally, the motorist will usually be required to continue blowing clean breath samples every few minutes while operating the vehicle. If the motorist fails to provide a clean sample when prompted by the device, the vehicle will start to shut down.

Requirements to Install Ignition Interlock Devices in New Jersey

As set forth by N.J.S.A. 39:4-50.16, individuals convicted of a DWI may be required by to install an ignition interlock device on their vehicles. For first-time DWI offenders, judges have discretion and may decide not to order installation of the ignition interlock device. In certain situations, such as a conviction for a second offense DWI or a third offense DWI, installation of the ignition interlock device becomes mandatory. Installation of the breath-testing machine is also mandatory when a first DWI offense involves a motorist whose BAC was greater than .15 percent, which is nearly double the legal limit of .08 percent in NJ.

The length of time during which the ignition interlock devices much be attached to the convicted DWI offender’s vehicles varies, depending on the severity of the offense and the number of prior DWI convictions on the person’s driving record. Here are some of the potential penalties:

  • First DWI Offense: At discretion of judge, ranges from six months to one year.
  • First DWI Offense with BAC Above .15 Percent: Mandatory for six months to one year.
  • Second DWI Offense: Mandatory for 1-3 years.
  • Third DWI Offense: Mandatory for 1-3 years.
  • Breath Test Refusal: Mandatory for six months to one year.

Keep in mind that the ignition interlock devices are only attached after a convicted DWI offender has been cleared to drive again on New Jersey roads. This is not always a given, especially since DWI convictions in New Jersey result in mandatory periods of license suspension and revocation. The NJ Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) actually requires proof that the ignition interlock devices have been installed on the DWI offender’s cars before their driving privileges will be restored.

Additionally, it is also worth considering that the convicted motorist will have to pay the costs of installation, which can be considerable – especially since the ignition interlock device must be installed on every motor vehicle that the convicted motorist owns or plans to drive during the restricted period. The motorist will also be required to pay monthly maintenance costs, which can sometimes exceed $100 per month.

Schedule a Free Consultation with an Elizabeth, NJ DWI Lawyer Today

Your ability to drive without distraction, and without the embarrassment of having to blow into a breathalyzer, is extremely important. If you have been charged with a DWI in Union County, Middlesex County, Monmouth County, or anywhere else in New Jersey, contact Calcagno & Associates now to arrange a free initial consultation. We can discuss your case over the phone or at one of our law offices in Westfield, Cranford, Newark, Red Bank, or Clifton.

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