Last week, the New Jersey State Legislature passed Senate Bill 824 sponsored by Senator Nicholas Scaturi (D-Union). The bill mandates that all DWI offenders must use interlock devices if they wish to drive. The state Assembly and Senate overwhelmingly passed the bill. This is a sign that voters and lawmakers are serious about cracking down on drunk driving offenses in the state. Judges in the state have already required the usage of interlock devices at higher rates than ever. The devices effectively limit instances of drunk driving. More devices should lower the number of drunk driving cases.

Interlock Devices an Effective Deterrent

State authorities reported that in 2018, interlock devices prevented more than 13,500 drivers from driving their cars under the influence of alcohol. Even though many assume previous penalties, which included fines, license suspension, and even prison time, were a sufficient deterrent to drunk driving, repeat offenses are very common. Keeping drunk drivers off the road means increased public safety. It also helps offenders from repeated DWI convictions, which could affect future employment and their civil rights. The passage of the new Bill makes interlock devices a requirement for any offender arrested for driving under the influence. The bill now goes to Governor Murphy to sign before it officially becomes law.

How Ignition Interlock Devices Operate

Interlock devices are a basic but effective solution to prevent repeat offenders. Drivers must breathe into an electronic breathalyzer. The breathalyzer connects to the vehicle ignition. If the sensor detects the presence of alcohol, the car will not start. Breath alcohol level tests are required before the car will start. People who use an interlock device installed are required to meet regularly with authorities. This lets the authorities monitor test results.

Implications of the New Bill

Under the new bill’s requirements, any first-time offender with a blood alcohol limit of over 0.08 to 0.10 percent is required to use an interlock device for three months. First-time offenders with blood alcohol levels higher than 0.10 percent will have them installed for up to twelve months. First-time offenders who test above 0.15 percent will have their license suspended for up to six months. After that, they will have an interlock device installed for up to 15 months. Second and subsequent offenders receive a license suspension and must serve two to four years with an interlock. The goal is that this new law will allow first-time low BAC offenders continued use of their cars to get to work and handle their affairs. Hopefully, they will be prevented from operating their car after drinking. It’s another step in helping secure the roads and prevent drunk driving accidents and deaths.