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NJ Law Mandates Ignition Interlock Devices

January 27, 2010

TRENTON, NJ -- Just days before New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was sworn into office, then-acting Gov. Stephen Sweeney signed into law a bill that requires drivers convicted of certain drunken driving offenses to outfit their vehicles with a breathalyzer device. 

The device locks the vehicle's ignition if the driver's blood alcohol concentration reaches a specified level. 

Under the new law, the ignition interlock device is mandatory for first-time offenders with a blood alcohol concentration of at least .15. The device remains in place for six months to a year. Repeat offenders are required to outfit their vehicles for one to three years. 

The legislation was named "Ricci's Law" to honor Ricci Branca, a 17-year-old killed by a drunk driver while riding a bike. The driver, who fled the scene, was later apprehended and had a blood alcohol concentration of .339 -- more than four times the legal limit of .08, the Star-Ledger newspaper reported. 

The law also makes it an offense for someone to start a vehicle for an offender, either by blowing into the device or tampering with it.

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