In New Jersey, there are several motor vehicle violations under which a defendant, who has either been found guilty or pleads guilty thereunder, will require mandatory installation of an alcoholic interlock device on the motor vehicle owned by or principally used by the defendant. On occasion, there are situations where even when a defendant does not possess title to a motor vehicle, installation of the alcoholic interlock device is mandatory, due to a violation of one of the applicable motor vehicle statutes. In that situation, under the current law in New Jersey, the defendant must present to the NJMVC, an executed contract with an authorized interlock device installer and a motor vehicle with the interlock device installed.
As an example, when a defendant is found guilty or pleads guilty to violations of the NJ DWI statute, N.J.S-39:4-50, and the blood alcohol (BAC) reading is .15 or higher, then the sentencing judge must order installation of an interlock device for a minimum of 6 months and a maximum of 12 months.
The same is true with respect to violation of the NJ refusal statute N.J.S-39:4-50.4a. The penalties for a first offense on a refusal are very strict in New Jersey, requiring the sentencing judge to mandatorily order the installation of the interlock device for a minimum of 7 months and up to one year maximum on a first offense. In sentencing a second or subsequent offender under NJS-39:4-50, the sentencing judge shall order, in addition to any other penalties imposed, the installation of an ignition interlock device in the vehicle principally operated by the offender during and following the expiration of the period of license suspension. The interlock device must remain in the vehicle for not less than one year and no more than three years commencing immediately upon the return of the offender’s driver’s license.
In situations where an offender’s blood alcohol is .08 to .14, the sentencing court may order the installation of the ignition interlock device in the motor vehicle principally operated by the offender following the expiration of the ordered period of suspension, for no less than six months or more than one year, commencing immediately upon the return of the defendant’s drivers license.
In sentencing a second and subsequent offender under the N.J.S 39:4-50, the court shall order the installation of the interlock device in the motor vehicle principally operated by the offender, during and following the expiration of the period of license suspension imposed by the court for no less than one year no more than three years commencing immediately upon the return of the offender’s drivers license. In addition, the ignition interlock device statute requires that for the duration of its order, an offender shall drive no vehicle other than the one in which an interlock device has been installed.
Most defendants are unaware of the arguably dire consequences that are administratively mandated when their sentence is rendered by the court. The harsh reality is that it is quite costly (in excess of $900.00) to install an alcohol ignition interlock device. Defendants are required to bring that vehicle to a download center every 30 to 60 days so that the data stored on the interlock device can be downloaded into a data base. Some companies even charge an additional fee for every download!
In addition, many defendants are unaware of the fact that if s/he intentionally or negligently fails to provide proof of installation of an alcohol interlock device on a vehicle subsequent to the court ordered period of suspension by “waiting it out”, the defendant will not be able to obtain reinstatement of driving privileges until proof of an executed contract with an authorized ignition interlock company is presented along with an alcohol ignition interlock installed vehicle.
Moreover, a person who either assists another in activating a vehicle with an interlock device, or tampers with the device may be accused of a disorderly persons offense and be subject to all the fines and penalties associated with the violation, including loss of driving privileges for up to six months. The defendant who violates the interlock device order upon conviction will lose driving privileges for an additional year on a first offense consecutive to the initial period of ordered suspension.
New Jersey takes a very strict approach, as do other States, with respect to a violation of driving while suspended based on a DWI/DUI (N.J.S-39:3-40). An offender, on a first offense will be sentenced to no less 10 days no more than 90 days in the respective county jail where the offense occurred and will lose driving privileges for no less than one year no more than two years consecutive to the initial sentencing period and upon completion of any prison sentence imposed. If an individual violates a second time, his/her driving privileges will be suspended an additional period of no less than one year, no more than two years, and will sustain substantial fines, and imprisonment for 60 to 90 days in the county jail. Finally, any offender who has been sentenced to a suspension due to a DWI/DUI, may not serve the jail time by performing S.L.A.P, in-patient rehabilitation or home arrest, but must serve the sentence in the county jail.