Ignition interlock devices, also known as IIDs, are miniature breathalyzers that are installed into cars to prevent motorists from driving while intoxicated. These devices have become a commonplace penalty for offenders convicted of a certain type of DWI in New Jersey.
In this article, we'll tell you everything you need to know about New Jersey ignition interlock device laws.
How Do Ignition Interlock Devices Work?
An ignition interlock device is used to measure a person's blood alcohol content (BAC) levels. It's often described as a mini breathalyzer. It's usually about the size of a cellular phone and is electrically wired into a vehicle's ignition system. When a judge orders a person to install this device into their car, it must be professionally installed at a service center designated by the MVC into every vehicle a suspect owns or drives.
In order to get on the road, the system must give a reading that indicates that you're sober. The ignition interlock device is pre-set to a limit of 0.05%, which means that even a small amount of alcohol will give you a “positive” reading. To start your car, you must give a breath sample or blow into a device. Shortly after the breath sample is provided, your BAC will be assessed. If the system reads that your BAC exceeds the preset limit, it will completely lock down for a minute before you can retest. The more you retest, the longer the lockout will ensue. If you outright refuse to blow into the device, your car will be disabled. A “negative” reading will trigger a response for the system to notify local law enforcement.
Driving long distances with an ignition interlock device installed into your vehicle can be tricky. The device will ask you to submit periodic breath samples, known as “rolling samples” while driving. You'll be given an estimated time of six minutes to submit a breath sample to ensure that you, the motorist with the DWI, is providing the samples. But there are also other ways to guarantee motorists aren't gaming the system. They entail:
- Requiring the driver to submit a sample according to a certain pattern
- Requiring the driver to submit random samples, even while driving
- A short cord that will not reach the passenger seat or back seats
In What Circumstances Will I Have to Install an Ignition Interlock Device?
A person will generally be required to install an ignition interlock device in their vehicle in two circumstances: if the BAC from their first DWI conviction was 0.15% or higher and/or if they refuse to comply with chemical testing. Once convicted of either of these crimes, the ignition interlock device is to be installed from the time that the license is suspended, and between six months and a year after a person's license is reinstated.
If your DWI involves a BAC under 0.15%, a judge may, at his or her discretion, order the installation of an ignition interlock device, but it isn't common. Failing to have this device installed when ordered by a judge could result in an additional year of stripped driving privileges.
Bypassing and Tampering
On the majority of ignition interlock devices, there's a label that reads as follows:
“Any person tampering with, circumventing or misusing this ignition interlock system shall be subject to prosecution and/or civil liability.
Bypassing, or finding an alternative way to use start the device, is against the law. This means that asking or soliciting another person to provide a breath sample in your place can be punishable, as well as using tricks like a blow dryer or a balloon to get a “positive” reading.
It is also a crime to tamper with this device in any way, shape, or form. New Jersey ignition interlock devices are technically advanced enough to detect and record any instance where an individual attempts to tamper with the advice. Suspicions of tampering by agencies of the MVC will also be reported to law enforcement.
Both bypassing and tampering are a “disorderly person” criminal complaint, which can lead to penalties that include a $1,000 fine and up to 6 months in jail. A disorderly person complaint is akin to a misdemeanor in other states.
How Much Does an Ignition Interlock Device Cost?
People convicted of a DWI are responsible for paying for the ignition interlock device, its installation and its calibration. A monthly leasing fee for the product is also included. While prices vary from brand to brand, you should expect to pay up to $100 for the initial installation, about $60 to $80 to cover calibration and monitoring, and then between $50 and $100 every month for the leasing fee.
To get a list of ignition interlock system brands certified by the MVC, contact the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission.
New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorney
Getting charged with a DWI comes with penalties like the installation of an ignition interlock device. But if it's proven that your arrest was unlawful or an officer's actions strayed from protocol, there's a good chance your charges could be dismissed and your driving privileges won't be limited.
With so much on the line, the best thing you can do is contact a seasoned criminal defense attorney. The sooner a legal representative can get on your case, the more time they have to build a solid defense. In New Jersey, a DWI is an offense that requires skilled and aggressive representation.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento has the experience and credentials to defend and counsel people who've acquired DWI charges. He will explain your pending charges, build a solid defense and work towards getting your charges reduced or dropped. For more information about Mr. Lento's representation, contact the Lento Law Firm either online or by phone at 888-535-3686.