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Ignition Interlock Device Law- Can These New Devices Prevent Drunk Driving In NJ?

Getting into your car is usually the most dangerous thing that do on any given day.  Most of us do not give much thought to the endless risks we take when
behind the wheel or as a passenger in a vehicle, because driving is a routine part of our existence.  But car crashes continue to take more lives than any other preventable accident–and no single type of auto accident results in more fatalities than drunk driving.

Obviously the dangers of drunk driving have long been understood.  Yet, officials across the country continue to grapple with the best response to the problem.  Should all focus be on awareness campaigns, educating the public on the life and death consequences?  Should restrictions be placed on alcohol sales?  Do criminal sanctions need to be stiffened for offenders?

Drunk Driving in New Jersey

Most argue for a combination of approaches.  In recent years, many officials have used technology in their battle against the deadly problem.  For example, late last month the New Jersey State Senate passed a bill (S-2427) which would mandate use of ignition interlock devices (IIDs) on the cars of drunk driving offenders. This would make New Jersey the 18th state to require use of these devices.

IIDs are tools which measure blood alcohol content on one’s breath, preventing a car from starting if alcohol is detected.  The idea, of course, is that the devices take away any possibility of these drivers making the same mistake again.

As reported by NJ.com, per the terms of the recent legislation, the installation of the device acts as an alternative to license suspension.  In other words, it is not necessarily a “stiffer” DWI penalty.  Instead, it may be viewed as a win-win, keeping the roads safer while allowing the offender the chance to correct his or her behavior.

One of the national leaders in this fight, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), sent a letter in support of the New Jersey proposal.  The letter explained, “License suspension is no longer a practical way to deal with drunk drivers.  Fortunately, ignition interlocks allow a convicted drunk driver to continue driving, but in a way that will protect families and motorists.

Will this bill become law?

Most observers expect this to pass.  It made it out of the Senate easily, on a 34 to 2 vote.  It is now awaiting approval from the Assembly’s Judiciary Committee.  If the bill is approved by the Assembly Judiciary Committee, it will head to the Governor for signature.

It is important to remember that these laws refer to criminal penalties following drunk driving in New Jersey.  If a drunk driver causes an accident that harms another individual, there may also be civil law implications.  If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident, you may have a claim for damages and you should contact an attorney to discuss the merits of your case.

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