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New Jersey Senate passes ignition interlock bill

Drunk driving is a serious offense. In New Jersey, a person is considered to be driving under the influence if their blood alcohol content is 0.08 or higher. Penalties for a DUI include fines and fees, driver's license suspension, potential jail time and community service. As with most crimes, penalties for repeat DUI convictions increase substantially.

Recently, the New Jersey State Senate passed a measure that would require individuals convicted of DUI charges to install ignition interlock systems in their vehicles. Under the terms of the proposed legislation, instead of a suspended licenses, motorists convicted of DUI charges will be required to install the ignition interlock device, which monitors prospective drivers for alcohol use, for a period between three to 12 months.

The ignition interlock device is an electronic mechanism that is tied into the vehicles ignition system. The device detects alcohol on the driver's breath prior to starting the vehicle. If a motorist has a BAC above a certain level, the device prevents the motorist from operating the vehicle. Many of these devices will also prompt the driver to retest periodically while driving, although they will not automatically stop a vehicle that is currently being driven. The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that ignition interlock devices have resulted in a large decrease in re-arrest or recidivism rates among impaired drivers.

Although the legislation recognizes the limited benefits and extreme burden of license suspension, ignition interlock devices are a very burdensome punishment. In addition to being costly to drivers, having such a device installed in a vehicle can be invasive and embarrassing. Until the New Jersey Assembly passes the proposed legislation, however, the state will simply continue to suspend the driving privileges of motorists.

Source: NJ.com, "Ignition interlock bill to deter drunk driving moved to N.J. Assembly after Senate approval," Don E. Woods, June 29, 2013

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