This week, the Governor signed into law amendments under “Ricci’s Law” that will dramatically alter the penalties that may be imposed upon conviction for a New Jersey DWI offense. Most notably, the installation of an ignition interlock device will be mandatory for some DWI and DWI related convictions.
The ignition interlock system is a device that is installed into a vehicle which consists of a mouth piece and an alcohol detection device. The monitor is attached to the ignition system. If the device detects the presence of alcohol, the vehicle will not start. The monitoring agency may also be notified. The device cannot be removed or tampered with, as any attempt to do so would remotely trigger an alarm with the monitoring agency. The defendant will typically incur the cost of installation, monitoring, etc.
There are two scenarios where the ignition interlock will be mandatory for vehicles primarily operated by the DWI defendant:
1) Refusal Conviction
2) A BAC of 0.015% or greater
On its face, it would appear that primary operation is going to be a frequently litigated issue, and will probably wind up spawning its own set of case law. Prior to the new law, the sentencing judge had an option to either suspend the registration or impose the ignition interlock. In the majority of cases, the former was imposed. However, the new laws make it mandatory in the herein stated situations.
The public policy behind this law is the desire to insure that those convicted of DWI offenses remain off the road during the period of suspension, and negate the possibility that they will begin to drink and drive immediately. From my perspective, the legislature had already accomplished this by making it a mandatory jail sentence for those caught driving while suspended as a result of a DWI in addition to a additional 1 yr loss of license.
The DWI laws continue to expand….
If you have been charged with a DWI offense, do yourself a big favor, and talk to a lawyer immediately.