The New Jersey Senate and Assembly has passed legislation requiring ignition interlocks for all drunk driving offenders, expanding the state's existing interlock law to first-time drunk drivers with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher.
If Gov. Phil Murphy signs Bill S 824 into law, New Jersey will become the 34th state in the nation with an all-offender ignition interlock law. Lawmakers approved it on June 20.
Presently and since 2010, New Jersey judges are required to order all repeat offenders and first-time offenders with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.15 or greater to install ignition interlocks.
Right now, first-time violators who register a 0.08 to 0.14 BAC simply get their license suspended, which proponents of the new law say is not enough of a deterrent. In fact, studies show that 50% to 75% of drunk driving offenders continue to drive on a suspended license, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
Bill S 824 is designed to crack down harder on first-time offenders with a BAC of 0.08 or greater, requiring them to get an interlock for a period of at least 30 days. The small, in-car breathalyzers require a sober breath sample before the vehicle will start.
Studies indicate that states that have ignition interlock laws similar to S 824 (and companion bill A 2089) can reduce repeat offenses by 67% and drunk driving fatalities by 16%, notes MADD.
In 2017, drunk driving took the lives of 125 people on New Jersey roads.
Data from MADD suggests that over the last dozen years, interlocks have prevented more than 87,925 attempts to drive drunk in New Jersey. In 2018, interlocks stopped 13,500 drivers from driving drunk.