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New Jersey Ignition Interlock Bill for All First-Time Offenders Pulled

A proposed law that would have required all New Jersey drivers convicted of drunk driving, including first-time offenders, to install an ignition interlock device in their cars was pulled from the legislative process just less than two weeks ago. Lawmakers said the bill needed to be revised so that it would be more effective.

Under current New Jersey law, an individual with a prior drunk driving conviction and who is convicted of drunk driving again is required to install an ignition interlock device on his or her car. First-time offenders with a blood alcohol level of at least 0.15 percent or greater are also required to install the device. Under the proposed law, all first-time drinking and driving offenders would be required to install an ignition interlock device as well, and the bill would reduce the periods of license suspension and some fines for some offenders.

An ignition interlock device attaches to a driver’s steering wheel and requires the driver to blow into a tube in order to start the vehicle. If the driver’s blood alcohol level is 0.04 percent or higher, the vehicle will not start. Some devices require the drive to blow at different increments while the car is on the road.

Different organizations had varying concerns about the proposed law. The Coalition of Ignition Interlock Manufacturers argued the bill had a large loophole in that an individual convicted of DUI could avoid the interlock device requirement by transferring the registration of his or her vehicle to another person. The Coalition argued that home arrest or some sort of alcohol monitoring system would help resolve the issue. The New Jersey chapter of the National Motorists Association argued that ignition interlock are too unreliable and intrusive on drivers.

Every state requires the use of ignition interlock devices, but only 17 states require the use of devices for all first-time offenders.

It’s expected that the bill will be up for another vote this coming fall.

Source: The Star-Ledger, “N.J. Bill Requiring Motorists Convicted of Drunken Driving to Wear Device is Pulled by Lawmakers,” MaryAnn Spoto, June 21, 2012

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