The NJ State Legislature is considering a new piece of legislation that would dramatically transform New Jersey’s policy regarding driving while intoxicated (DWI) charges.
A bill that was introduced last year received unanimous approval from the State Assembly Judiciary on December 16. It is now being transferred to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
The NJ Criminal Code currently subjects persons convicted of DUI offenses to mandatory license suspensions ranging from three (3) months to 10 years. For example, first-time offenders with a blood alcohol content (BAC) between 0.08% and 0.10% may be subject to a license suspension of up to one (1) year. A person convicted of a third offense DUI with a BAC above 0.08% may have his or her license suspended for as long as 10 years.
The proposed legislation would eliminate the mandatory license suspension for a DUI conviction. Instead, persons convicted of a DUI would be required to install an ignition interlock device in their vehicles. An ignition interlock device prevents a drunk driver from starting the car engine because the driver must first blow into the device in order to test his or her BAC. The device effectively disables the ignition of the automobile until the driver blows a clean breath test sample.
At present, the NJ Criminal Code requires only certain individuals to install an ignition interlock device in their vehicle: defendants convicted of refusing to submit to a breath test, defendants convicted of a second or third offense DUI, and defendants convicted of a DUI with a BAC of 0.15% or higher.
Supporters of the new legislation include members of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). Opponents of the bill argue that removing the mandatory license suspension as a punishment will take away one of the most severe consequences of driving under the influence in New Jersey.
According to reports, more than 35,000 individuals are convicted of driving under the influence in New Jersey annually. If the proposed legislation passes, it could significantly impact residents in Morris County, including those in Morristown, Parsippany, and Denville.
For more information, read the NorthJersey.com article entitled “DWI Legislation Would Replace Drunken Driving Suspensions with Ignition Locks.“