You may have heard of a new bill in the New Jersey legislature that would require ignition interlock devices for all drivers convicted of driving while intoxicated. An ignition interlock is a device that is installed on a vehicle and will not allow the vehicle to be started unless the driver can provide a breath sample that registers below a certain blood alcohol concentration. Under New Jersey law, a BAC of .05 or lower is required to start a vehicle with an ignition interlock.

While the new bill would change things for some first-time DWI offenders, ignition interlocks are already in use throughout New Jersey for a number of drivers who have been convicted of various drunk driving charges. Now is a good time to review the specifics of New Jersey’s current ignition interlock requirements following a DWI conviction.

Ignition interlock already a requirement for multiple and high BAC DWIs

Although the new bill is touted as a measure that will mean ignition interlocks for first-time DWI offenders, in fact, even under current law a first-time DWI charge can result in required installation of an ignition interlock. At the judge’s discretion, use of an ignition interlock can be ordered for a first DUI offense for six months to a year. The difference with the new bill is that it would require ignition interlocks for all first time DWI offenders rather than leaving the decision up to a judge. For DUIs involving a particularly high BAC (.15 or higher), under current law an ignition interlock is always required for six months to a year.

For a second or third DWI, an ignition interlock is also already required under current New Jersey law. After a second or third drunk driving conviction, you must install an ignition interlock during your period of driver’s license suspension, and you must continue to use the ignition interlock for one to three years after your license has been restored.

While the order to install an ignition interlock comes from the court, it is the driver’s responsibility to contact an approved ignition interlock provider and ensure that the device is installed. Drivers are responsible for installation costs, maintenance fees and other expenses incident to the use of an ignition interlock.

Fight DWI charges with the help of a New Jersey criminal defense lawyer

An ignition interlock can be inconvenient, embarrassing and expensive. But, if you are convicted of a drunk driving charge in New Jersey, it could become an ongoing reality.

If you are facing a DWI charge, get in touch with a New Jersey criminal defense attorney today, particularly if this is a second or subsequent DWI. While defending against DWI charges is challenging, an arrest is not the same as a conviction. By standing up for your legal rights and retaining an experienced attorney, you have the best odds of successfully fighting a DWI charge.