New Jersey has changes planned for how it handles drunk driving convictions beginning in January 2020, shifting the focus from drivers license suspensions to ignition interlock devices.

Gov. Phil Murphy signed legislation in August that will revise penalties for drunk driving and expand the use of the "IID", a device that detects alcohol from breath samples it takes from the driver. If alcohol is detected, the vehicle's engine will not start.

The new law expands use of the devices while cutting down the length of license suspension and forfeitures.

Murphy said the measure is a way to curb repeat offenses while still allowing people to continue working to support themselves and their families.

“Expanding the use of ignition interlock devices is just common sense....We must deter drunk driving without negatively impacting individuals’ ability to take care of themselves or their families....ignition interlock devices prevent drunk driving while allowing ex-offenders to support themselves and their families.”

Under the law, drunk drivers will be subject to these five new rules:

- First time offenders with a blood alcohol of 0.08 to 0.10 percent will be required to have an IID installed in their vehicle for three months.

- An offender with a blood alcohol count of 0.10 to 0.15 percent will be required to have an IID installed in their vehicle for seven to 12 months.

- License suspensions will be reduced from the mandatory 45 days down to the time required for installing the IID.

- Any first time offender who has a blood alcohol count above 0.15 percent will have their license suspended for four to six months and have an IID installed during and after the suspension for nine to 15 months.

- Current law provides for a one year driver's license suspension for failing to install a required IID. The bill increases the suspension to 18 months.
The law will take effect by Jan. 1.

Source: NJ Gov. Murphy's office

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