NJ Changes To DWI Offenses - FOX 35 News Orlando

NJ Changes To DWI Offenses

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Trenton, New Jersey (My9NJ) - There is a new bill quickly traveling through the New Jersey legislature that could completely change how DWI offenses are dealt with.

There are roughly 35,000 DWI cases in the Garden State every year. Right now, the penalty for your first drunk driving offense, where your blood alcohol level is between a .08 and .15, is a three to seven month license suspension on top of roughly $2,000 in fines.

Repeat offenders can face up to ten years of suspension, higher fines and possible jail time.

Now, this new proposal would completely remove license suspensions all together and replace them with interlock ignition devices immediately following a first offense.

These devices are similar to a breathalyzer issued by cops, but it is installed in the offender’s vehicle. Each time you go to drive you must blow into the device which then monitors if you have been drinking or not. The car will actually refuse to start if your blood alcohol level is higher than a .08.

One organization supporting this bill is the Mothers Against Drunk Driving and their state legislature affairs manager, Frank Harris, chimed in to talk about how this would work.

“This proposal does not paint all drunk drivers with the same brush. It is not a one size fits all proposal. There’s different periods on an ignition interlock device depending on the offenders blood alcohol level. So for example, somebody with a .099 would only be on an interlock for three months. As somebody with a BAC higher than that such as a 1.6 would be on an interlock for at least one year,” he said.

Some are skeptical that using this installed device as the only punishment for drunk driving would just force people to find ways around it including: driving someone else’s car or having someone else blow into it.

“Up to 75% of convicted drivers will drive on a suspended license. An interlock has safe guards too. They can see if somebody is not using the interlock, and obviously, one way to get around it using somebody else’s vehicle. And, interlocks now have cameras to verify the identity of who is using the device,” Harris said.


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