TRENTON, NJ -- In an effort to crack down and deter drunk driving, Governor Phil Murphy signed a new law on Friday expanding the use of ignition interlock devices for those convicted of drunk driving offenses and of refusing breath tests.
"Expanding the use of ignition interlock devices is just common sense," said Murphy. "We must deter drunk driving without negatively impacting individuals' ability to take care of themselves or their families. 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."
Installation of the ignition interlock device will lead to a reduced amount of time of the license suspension and forfeitures for these offenses, officials said. First-time offenders will need to install ignition interlock devices (IID) at their own cost. The installation of ignition interlock devices and suspensions for further offenses would be determined based upon the severity of the incident.
The Chief Administrator of the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission will issue a semi-annual summary report containing information on drunk driving offenders that are required to install an IID.
"Ignition interlock systems have saved hundreds of lives and significantly decreased crashes due to impaired driving," said New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission Chair and Chief Administrator Sue Fulton. "Safety is at the center of everything we do here at NJMVC, so we support installing these systems as a strong, effective alternative to driver suspensions."
"This law is an important step in improving safety by updating the definition of impaired driving for the realities of today's opioid crisis and the potential for expansion of marijuana access, whether medicinal or commercial," said Assemblyman Dan Benson (D-Hamilton), chairman of the Assembly Transportation Committee. "Also, by using alternatives to suspensions, such as interlock devices, we can reduce opportunities for drunk driving by offenders who may be tempted to drive while on suspension."
"This law represents the most significant DWI reform in New Jersey in nearly a decade," said MADD National President Helen Witty, whose 16-year-old daughter, Helen Marie, was killed by a drunk driver while rollerblading on a bike path after school.
The law will take effect in four months and will apply to offenses committed after that date.