Need Help Understanding the NJ Ignition Interlock Device Program?
Let’s start by explaining that an ignition interlock device is intended to prevent drivers convicted of DWI from drinking and driving. It’s a remedial measure designed to protect society.
Every state across the country has adopted the ignition interlock device as a sentencing option for DWI and New Jersey is no different.
The interlock is a hand-held device that can be installed in the dashboard of any vehicle.
Once the interlock has been installed, the driver of the vehicle must exhale into the machine in order to start the engine.
If the breath alcohol content (BAC) that the driver registers is not below a certain limit, the vehicle will not start.
That limit in New Jersey is 0.05%.
Am I Going to Be Given An Ignition Interlock Device?
On top of the standard monetary penalties, second and third-time DWI offenders must be sentenced to either install an ignition interlock device or have their vehicle’s registration revoked entirely.
Judges also have the authority to sentence first-time offenders to the ignition interlock.
Any motor vehicle that is owned, leased or regularly operated by a person convicted of DWI must have the interlock installed for a period of six months to one year. This period will begin after your license is reinstated, following its suspension on account of your conviction.
A second DWI conviction may result in the ignition interlock device being required for one to three years following the restoration of your license.
What Happens If I Don’t Use the Interlock?
If you drive a vehicle that doesn’t have the interlock installed, or if you start the car in a way that doesn’t involve blowing into the device, you can expect an additional one-year suspension of driving privileges. (just play by the rules and don’t make matters worse)
If you get someone else to blow into the device for you, that person is subject to a “disorderly person” criminal complaint. The penalties for this may include a $1,000 fine and up to six months in jail.
Tampering with the device is a disorderly person’s offense as well. Once again, own your mistake and don’t try to “beat” the system.
Can I Drive Another Car Instead?
Any driver who is sentenced under this law cannot drive any vehicle that does not also have the interlock installed. New Jersey’s Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) will make this requirement clear by noting it on your driver’s license and entering it on your driving record.
You could also choose to surrender your driver’s license outright, rather than completing the interlock time period to which you have been sentenced. If you choose to give up your license, the device will then be removed from your vehicle(s). This is not a very popular option.
What If the Judge Decides to Revoke My License Instead?
If your registration is revoked, this applies to all passenger automobiles, motorcycles and noncommercial trucks that are owned or leased by the repeat drunk driving offender. This includes vehicles that are leased or jointly registered by that offender.
The offender then has 48 hours to surrender all registration certificates and registration plates to the Motor Vehicle Commission.
Failure to comply could lead to your vehicles being impounded. The period of revocation for a second drunk driving conviction would be two years. For a third or subsequent drunk driving conviction, the revocation would be ten years. The length of the revocation is determined by the period of the license suspension imposed for violating the DWI law.
Is It True that I Have To Pay For It?
Yes. If you are sentenced to install an interlock device, you must pay for its installation, as well as its monthly leasing fee.
For indigent persons, there are reduced rates which are 50% of the installation charge and 50% of the monthly leasing fee.
An “indigent” person is someone who earns very little money per week. You have to fill out an application and the judge will decide if you qualify as an “indigent” person.
Prices may vary but you should expect to pay up to $100 for the initial installation, followed by a monthly leasing fee between $50 and $100.
If you would like a list of breath alcohol ignition interlock devices (BAIID) that have been certified by the MVC, you can make your request by contacting the MVC at the following address:
New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission
PO Box 134
Trenton, NJ 08625-0134