If convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) in the state of New Jersey, you could face serious penalties that will increase depending on your blood alcohol content (BAC) and whether or not you have been previously convicted of DUI. These include high fines, long jail sentences, and license suspensions, as well as what is known as an “ignition interlock device” being placed on your vehicle. This device will test your BAC and, if it is found to be over the legal limit, it will prevent you from driving the vehicle. Violations of the ignition interlock requirements can lead to further penalties including license suspension and even jail time in some severe cases. Below, our skilled Atlantic City DUI defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Joh J. Zarych explain when you will be required to have an interlock device in your vehicle and what further penalties you can face if you blow into the vehicle and alcohol is registered on your breath, if you have someone else blow into the device for you, or if you try to remove the device or operate another vehicle during your interlock period.
What is an Ignition Interlock Device in New Jersey?
An ignition interlock device is a type of breathalyzer machine installed in your vehicle that must be blown into each time you want to start the vehicle. The machine will then register your BAC as a normal breathalyzer does. If your BAC is above 0.05%, which is slightly lower than the state’s legal limit of 0.08%, the device will lock down the vehicle and begin honking and flashing until you turn it off. Then, you will not be able to start it for a period of time, usually an hour. You will also have to blow into the device every so often while driving in order to ensure your BAC is still below the legal limit. The device also retains information that can be reported back to law enforcement, such as when and how many times the interlock device registered a BAC above the legal limit and locked down the vehicle. The device must be recalibrated regularly, and you will be responsible for taking it to the service center to have this done for however long you are required to have the ignition interlock on your vehicle.
When is an Ignition Interlock Device a Condition of a New Jersey DUI Conviction?
Effective December 2019, all DWI convictions in the state of New Jersey require the installation of an ignition interlock device for at least some length of time. For a first-time offender whose BAC was measured at under .10%, the device will be mandate for three months, to be installed upon conviction. A first-time offender whose BAC is between .10% and .15 percent will have to have the interlock device installed for 7-12 months, while those whose BAC was measured at .15% or higher must have the interlock device on their vehicle for 9-15 months after their license privileges have been restored. For a second or subsequent DUI conviction, the device will be required for a period ranging from 2-4 years, starting after your license has been restored. The interlock device is also required for all convictions for the separate crime of DUI test refusal.
What Happens if I Violate the Interlock Laws in New Jersey?
What will happen to you if you “fail,” or violate, the ignition interlock aspect of your sentence will depend on exactly what you did and whether or the specific conditions of your probation were violated. For example, if you blow into the device and your BAC is measured at 0.05% or higher, the immediate effect will be that the device will start flashing and beeping and the car will lock down once you turn it off. However, this information may also be reported to the local law enforcement or probation/parole agency monitoring you.
If it was a condition of your probation that you refrain from drinking, this could lead to a probation violation being filed. Such a violation can lead to penalties including revocation of your probation and even jail time. If you have set off the device and believe you may have violated your probation or parole, contact an experienced Atlantic City probation violation attorney like those at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych as soon as possible. We can work to explain your side of the story and convince the probation officer not to file a formal violation and can challenge the legitimacy of one if it is filed.
Of course, there are other ways that you can violate the ignition interlock provisions of your sentence aside from just blowing into the device when you are drunk. If you fail to install the device or if you drive another vehicle that does not have a device installed, your license will be suspended for at least a year. If you tamper with or circumvent the device in some way, you can be charged with a disorderly persons offense punishable by fines and jail time. Furthermore, if you assist someone who is under the interlock device requirement by blowing into a device on their behalf or by renting, leasing, or lending a vehicle not equipped with an ignition interlock device to them, you can be charged with a disorderly persons offense as well. Any time you are charged with some sort of interlock violation, you should contact an experienced Atlantic City criminal defense attorney like those at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych as soon as possible so we can work to mitigate the damage as much as we can.
If You Are Concerned About an Interlock Violation, Call Our Skilled New Jersey Defense Lawyer Today
Violating the terms of your ignition interlock device can lead to serious penalties including potential jail time in extreme cases. At the Law Offices of John J. Zarych, our veteran DUI defense lawyers have years of experience successfully defending clients throughout New Jersey charged with violations of interlock or probation violations resulting from interlock issues. We understand that you may be innocent of the violation, as these machines are not perfect, especially when not properly calibrated, and we will fight to get any additional charges or penalties downgraded or dismissed. Call us today at (609) 616-4956 for a free consultation.