TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senator Joseph V. Doria which would require that all persons convicted of a drunk driving offense install an ignition interlock device in any motor vehicle they own, lease or operate was approved by the Senate Law, Public Safety and Veterans Affairs Committee yesterday.
“Too often, we read in newspapers about repeat drunk drivers causing family tragedy in New Jersey by defying court-ordered license suspension and tempting fate,” said Senator Doria, D-Hudson. “We cannot simply rely on the honor system to keep drivers with a history of impairment from being a danger to every legally licensed driver and pedestrian in this State. Ignition interlock devices offer a safe compromise to allow those in a household who are authorized to use a motor vehicle to do so, while keeping those under the influence, who would risk the safety of others, off our roads.”
The bill, S-2001, would require that ignition interlock devices, which require a breathalyzer test before a vehicle can be started, be installed on every vehicle owned, leased or operated by a person convicted of drunk driving, be it for the first, second or subsequent offense. If a driver convicted of his or her second offense refuses to have the interlock device installed, he or she would have their registration and plates revoked for two years, and for third or subsequent offenses, the registration and plates would be revoked for 10 years.
“We need a tough, no-nonsense ignition interlock law to ensure that drunk drivers do not abuse the law and continue to be a hazard to everyone on the road,” said Senator Doria. “Too many lives have already been cut short due to drunk driving, and we need a measure to enforce license suspension, especially in cases where drunk drivers are looking to repeat their offense, potentially risking their lives as well as anyone else unfortunate enough to be in their path. This bill would, if enacted, quite simply, save lives in the Garden State.”
Senator Doria noted that a study from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that 37 percent of all fatal car crashes in New Jersey involved alcohol, and that 31 percent of all driving while intoxicated (DWI) arrestees nationwide will be back in court within 24 months of their initial arrest for a second DWI. However, according to the senator, after Maryland adopted an ignition interlock law, the recidivism rate for DWIs dropped nearly 30 percent.
“We’ve seen proof positive in other states that ignition interlock devices work to enforce safe, responsible behavior among drivers who drink,” said Senator Doria. “Coupled with an aggressive educational program, substance abuse counseling and other tools at the prosecutors’ disposal, ignition interlocks can have a huge impact on DWI recidivism in New Jersey.”
The bill now heads to the full Senate for consideration.