Article provided courtesy of Randolph H. Wolf, Counselor at Law.
Clients often ask the attorneys at the Law Office of Randolph H. Wolf whether or not they are required to install an ignition interlock device as a result of their DWI. An ignition interlock device prevents the engine from starting unless a clean breath sample is provided on the spot by blowing into a tube attached to the dashboard.
In the past, whether or not to require the use of these devices in a vehicle owned by a drunk driving offender was discretionary and at the request of a municipal court judge. Installation of the device, however, became mandatory on January 14, 2010, under certain circumstances.
The law requires an ignition interlock in the principal motor vehicle used by drivers convicted of a first-time DWI with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .15 percent or more during the period of license suspension as well as for six months to one year following the suspension. For an individual convicted of a second DWI in New Jersey, the law requires a mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device during the license suspension and for one to three years following the suspension of the individual’s driver's license. Finally, for a third DWI offense in New Jersey, there is a mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device during the license suspension and for one to three years following the restoration of the individual’s driving privileges in New Jersey. Interlock devices can cost hundreds of dollars to install and carry monthly service charges of about $50 to $100.
Notably, the law also mandates installation of the device for all refusal convictions. Case law holds that the statement police read to refusal arrestees must inform the defendant of all consequences. As a result, the statement police read to refusal arrestees was recently revised to include a warning that the refusal penalty can include the installation of an ignition lock. The amended statement, which went into effect as of July 1, 2012, is available at http://njpdresources.com/dui/pdfs/english1.pdf.
It remains to be seen if Canada will follow New Jersey's lead and make Ignition Locks a widespread practice.