Starting in 2020, New Jersey will change the penalties for drivers convicted of DWI. The new law will reduce the length of a license suspension. However, drivers will be required to install an ignition interlock device (IID) on their vehicle.
Under the old system, a driver could have his/her license suspended for as much as 1 year for a first offense, depending on how intoxicated he/she was. The logic was that this would prevent the person from driving drunk in the future. However, due to economic demands, many NJ drivers opt to continue driving on the suspended license. Those that don’t risk losing their jobs and their livelihood. This led lawmakers to look for a more “common sense” solution.
“We must deter drunk driving without negatively impacting individuals’ ability to take care of themselves or their families,” said NJ Governor Phil Murphy.
The new law caps the suspension period at 45 days max for a first offense. However, the driver must install the IID during the suspension period and between 3 and 18 months after the suspension is lifted. The IID requires a driver to blow into it, like a breathalyzer test, and will disable the vehicle if alcohol is detected.
The new law allows first-time offenders to get their licenses back immediately, so long as the device is installed right away.
Murphy signed the measure into law in August, citing data from the National Highway and Transportation Safety Administration (NHSTA) showing that IIDs have led to a 16% reduction in drunk driving fatalities in some states.