TRENTON  —New Jersey became the 34th state in the country to to mandate ignition interlock devices for all drunk-driving offenders, that includes those convicted for their first offense. 

The law actually loosens overall penalties and suspension as New Jersey seeks to allow offenders to be able to drive to work and live normally. The drivers are required to blow a sober breath sample before the car will start. 

“We must deter drunk driving without negatively impacting individuals’ ability to take care of themselves or their families," Governor Murphy said after signing the legislation. "License suspensions are an imperfect tool for accomplishing both aims, as they do not stop drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel and they can prevent ex-offenders from supporting their livelihoods. In contrast, ignition interlock devices prevent drunk driving while allowing ex-offenders to support themselves and their families.”

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The law requires that first-time offenders install ignition interlock devices, which they will have to pay for.

Previously only repeated offenders and those with a blood-alcohol content of 0.15% or greater were required to use the device. This law applies to all with legal limit of 0.08% and also applied automatically to those who refuse to submit to a breath test after being pulled over.

For first-time offenders with BAC of 0.08 to 0.10%, the ignition interlock will have to be used for six months following the license suspension of 30 days (previously three months).

For offenders with a BAC of 0.10 to 0.15%, the device must be used for six months to a year following a license suspension of 45 days (previously seven months to a year).

For offenders with a BAC higher than 0.15%, the device must be used for one year to 18 months after the license suspension of 90 days.