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Drunk driving conviction now includes ignition interlock

Across the country, the trends related to drunk driving laws have included lower tolerance and higher penalties. Drunk driving is not a minor offense, and if a court convicts you, you can expect the consequences to follow you indefinitely. Those consequences often include the very real challenges that occur when authorities suspend your driver's license, which may prevent you from driving to fulfill your family obligations, including going to work.

More recently, states like New Jersey are examining the potentially devastating effect that license suspension can have on a driver convicted of drunk driving. Losing driving privileges, even for a few months, can create a downward spiral from which many cannot recover. Studies are showing that ignition interlock systems may be more effective in deterring drunk driving as well as eliminating some of the long-term ramifications many drivers face following a DWI conviction.

Changes in New Jersey laws

Ignition interlock devices require you to blow into a device that measures the level of your blood alcohol concentration. If the device detects alcohol on your breath, the vehicle will not start. You may agree with many who find this option better than a license suspension. New Jersey lawmakers have recently incorporated IIDs into drunk driving laws in the following ways:

  • The court will order you to install IIDs on your vehicles if it convicts you of drunk driving even if it is your first offense.
  • Instead of losing your license for three months, you will face a 30 to 45-day suspension after which you may install the IID.
  • First offenders must use the IID for six months.
  • You will have to pay the cost of installation of the device, potentially in every vehicle you own, as well as paying the monthly maintenance and service fees.
  • If your BAC measures significantly higher than New Jersey's legal limit, such as .15 or more, your suspension will last 90 days, and you will have to use the IID for up to 18 months.

While it may seem preferable to have an IID in your vehicle than to serve the full term of a license suspension, doing so still means you have a drunk driving conviction on your record. This alone could create many setbacks and challenges for your future. Seeking legal advice as early as possible after a drunk driving arrest can allow you to explore your options for defending yourself and working for a more favorable outcome.

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