Federal Agency Wants New Jersey To Make Drunk Driving Law Harsher

People in New Jersey may have heard that the National Transportation Safety Board has asked all states to make it mandatory that even first-time drunk driving offenders be held responsible for their actions. The punishment that the federal agency is asking for is something more than just jail, fines or a suspension; the Board is asking that states force drivers to install an ignition interlock device on their cars.

Under New Jersey law, anyone who is convicted of a first-time drunk driving offense is will only need to install an ignition interlock if he or she had a blood alcohol level of 0.15. The Board doesn’t think this is good enough, however, and is asking the state to install interlocks for everyone who is convicted, regardless of blood alcohol content.

Interlock devices are quite expensive. Not only do they cost money to install, but car owners with ignition interlock devices must pay monthly rental fees to the state. For someone convicted of nothing more than a one-time mistake, he or she could be in serious trouble. In addition to this harsh punishment, someone convicted of drunk driving could be sent to jail or fined.

The Board argues that preventing drunk driving in vehicles operated by a one-time drunk driver should surpass a driver’s need for appropriate punishment. Moreover, it says many accidents may be caused by alcohol consumption. While it is true that someone who is driving drunk may cause an accident, it is sober drivers and drivers who have never been convicted of drunk driving that can also cause accidents.

Source: Boston Globe, “NTSB: Use ignition locks for all drunken drivers,” Joan Lowy, Dec. 11, 2012

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