Most of the United States considers driving more a privilege than a right, but even with that, the state does recognize that for most people, driving is inseparable from transportation to and from school and jobs. In trying to balance both the need for consequences with an acknowledgment of the above, New Jersey state traffic laws allow some offenders to shorten their license suspensions by agreeing to install ignition interlock devices on their vehicles. You may then be wondering what an ignition interlock device even is and how an ignition interlock device can affect the penalties you ultimately face for a DWI. Keep reading to learn all about the use of these devices and don’t hesitate to contact a Bergen County traffic ticket lawyer if you are dealing with a DUI or DWI charge.
First-Time Offenders and the Ignition Interlock Device
Although New Jersey wants to impress on drivers the gravity of driving while intoxicated, the state tries to balance this with some amount of leeway for first-time offenders. As such, first-timers will have their license suspended until they install an ignition interlock device on their car. An ignition interlock device is a handheld breathalyzer, installed on a car, that prevents the car from starting if it detects alcohol in the driver. It will not function without careful professional installation and regular maintenance, a cost the driver is obligated to bear.
The Garden State requires that the ignition interlock device remains on the vehicle for a certain amount of time, depending on the BAC of the driver at the time of their DUI. First-time offenders with a blood alcohol content below 0.10% will usually only need to have the device installed for three months. If the driver had a BAC between 0.10% and 0.15%, however, the ignition interlock device may need to remain for seven months to a year.
However, if the driver had a blood alcohol content level above 0.15%, being a first-time offender won’t save them. They will face a full license suspension lasting four to six months, at the discretion of the judge. After this, the driver will be able to restore their license if they agree to install an ignition interlock device for nine to 15 months.
Second-Time Offenders and Ignition Interlock Devices
In New Jersey as in most states, repeated violations of DUI laws have consequences. Compared to first-timers, second-time offenders will have their license suspended for one to two years, once again at the discretion of the judge. After complying, the driver must install an ignition interlock device for anywhere between two and four years before their license can be reinstated.
Third-Time Offenders and Ignition Interlock Devices
Despite New Jersey laws’ attempt at fairness, third and later offenses are when courts begin to buckle down. Third-timers now encounter a heavy license suspension period: eight years. Like second-timers, third-timers need to install an ignition interlock device for two to four years as a prerequisite for recovering their license.
Breathalyzer Test Refusals and Repeat Offenders
Besides what was discussed above, there are more aggravating factors that can increase the length of a license suspension. For instance, there are specific license suspension penalties for refusing to take a breathalyzer test. In this case, a refusal can mean a license suspension for as little as seven months to as much as 20 years. Similarly, after a DWI conviction, future violations of New Jersey traffic laws will earn the driver additional 90-day license suspensions.