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New Jersey to use new devices following drunk driving convictions


If both the New Jersey State Senate and Gov. Chris Christie approve a bill that would require ignition interlocks for most drunk driving convictions, New Jersey will have one of the tougher responses to drunk driving in the country. As it is, if someone in Newark were to be arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated, he or she would face a difficult road, but the proposed law would require even people convicted of a first offense to install the equivalent of a breath test in their vehicles. Not only is this wildly inconvenient, but it is also expensive to maintain.

An ignition interlock device requires drivers to pass an alcohol breath test to use the vehicle and will not move if the driver cannot pass. Many models also make the driver take follow-up tests while the vehicle is in motion. Often, ignition interlock devices will consider a driver to have failed a breath test if there is even a marginal amount of alcohol on the breath, far less than what is actually illegal.

The proposed bill has already made it out of the State Assembly and has been sent to the Senate for consideration. Should it pass, even those convicted of a first offense will have to install an ignition interlock for a minimum of three months. This, of course, also follows a license suspension. Depending on what the driver's blood alcohol concentration was at the time of his or her arrest, the time the ignition interlock must remain installed could be significantly longer.

One of the many reasons why the ignition interlock is a hindrance is because it can be quite expensive to install and maintain. Most of the time, an individual must pay for it to be installed, pay a monthly rental fee to use the device and a monthly charge for maintenance. If this bill passes, the cost of a drunk driving conviction may jump considerably.

Source: The Paramus Post, "Bill to Toughen Drunken Driving Penalties Advanced by Assembly," Mel Fabrikant, June 26, 2014

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