A recent bill, introduced to the New Jersey state legislature in January 2014, has the potential to bring about significant changes in the ways first-time DWI offenders are punished and treated.

If passed, the bill would make it possible for drivers convicted of a first DWI to avoid license suspension if they agree to install an ignition interlock device in their car instead. An ignition interlock device requires drivers to take and pass a breath test to ensure that their blood alcohol content (BAC) is below the legal limit of .08 percent before starting the car. If they don't pass the breath test, the device prevents their vehicles from starting.

According to a representative from Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), a group advocating for the bill to pass, ignition interlock devices have been shown to lower repeat DWI offenses by approximately 67 percent. While this is an encouraging statistic for proponents of the new law, its skeptics say the proposed measure places too many restrictions on first-time offenders and should instead leave room for conditional driving privileges.

New Jersey's current DWI law includes the following requirements:

  • A mandatory minimum three month license suspension for all first-time offenders
  • Ignition interlock devices required only for repeat offenders or first-time offenders with BACs higher than 0.15 percent

If you are facing DUI or DWI charges in New Jersey, exercise your right to legal counsel in order to build the strongest possible defense. Contact a criminal defense attorney right away to discuss the details of your case.

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