New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy recently signed into law a series of changes to New Jersey DWI laws. The legislation (S824) makes several changes to New Jersey law, including revising drunk driving penalties, expanding the use of ignition interlock devices, and reducing the length of license suspension and forfeitures. The changes to the law are aimed at cracking down on DUI/DWI cases in New Jersey while also giving people with DUI/DWI convictions the opportunity to have their licenses reinstated more quickly. The law takes effect on January 1, 2020. We want to provide you with more information about the specific aspects of the law and to explain how these changes may impact DUI/DWI cases in the future.

Expansion of Ignition Interlock Devices

Part of the law is designed to deter drunk driving and to prevent DUI/DWI crashes in New Jersey. As a press release from the governor’s office explains, in order to deter and prevent drunk driving, the law will expand the use of ignition interlock devices. According to Governor Murphy, “expanding the use of ignition interlock devices is just common sense” because the expansion will “deter drunk driving without negatively impacting individuals’ ability to take care of themselves or their families.”

The expansion of ignition interlock devices will occur in conjunction with a shift in driver’s license suspensions. Currently, when a person is convicted of a DUI/DWI and has his or her driver’s license suspension for a significant amount of time, that license suspension can prevent the individual from working and from providing transport and care for children and other family members. In lieu of an extended license suspension, the use of ignition interlock devices will be expanded.

As Governor Murphy clarified, “license suspensions are an imperfect tool for accomplishing both aims” of deterring drunk driving while still allowing individuals to provide family care. Indeed, he went on to reason, license suspensions “do not stop drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel and they can prevent ex-offenders from supporting their livelihoods.” Differently, ignition interlock devices are able to accomplish both of those aims in some capacity. To be sure, “ignition interlock devices prevent drunk driving while allowing ex-offenders to support themselves and their families.” Research supports the conclusion that ignition interlock devices deter drunk driving and prevent DUI/DWI crashes.

Understanding Specific Changes to the Law

Now that you understand why the use of ignition interlock devices will be expanded, it is important to learn more about the specific changes to the law. These changes include the following:

  • All first-time DUI/DWI offenders will be required to install an ignition interlock device (IID), and will be required to pay for the cost;
  • First-time offenders with a BAC of 0.08 to 0.10 will be required to use the IID for six months and face a license suspension of 30 days;
  • First-time offenders with a BAC of 0.10 to 0.15 will be required to use the IID for six months to one year and will face a license suspension of 45 days; and
  • First-time offenders with a BAC of 0.15 or higher will be required to use the IID for one year to 18 months and will face a license suspension of 90 days.

Contact a New Jersey DUI/DWI Defense Lawyer

Do you have questions about how the new law may affect you, or are you currently facing drunk driving charges? A DWI defense lawyer in New Jersey can assist you. Contact William McGuinn at wmcguinn@hoaglandlongo.com or Joseph Leone at jleone@hoaglandlongo.com or call 732-545-4717 for more information.