Ignition Interlock Device: Penalties for Non-Compliance

On January 14, 2010, New Jersey amended its drunk driving laws to require municipal court judges to order the installation of an ignition interlock device (IID) in certain DWI matters. The IID requires your breath sample before the engine will start. If the IID detects alcohol on your breath, the engine will not start. As you drive, you are periodically required to provide breath samples to ensure the continued absence of alcohol in your system.  Under the amended law, judges must order the installation of the ignition interlock device in the following situations:

  • First time DWI convictions where the defendant’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.15% or higher;
  • Second and all subsequent DWI convictions;
  • Refusal convictions; and
  • DWI School Zone convictions.

The interlock ignition device must be installed on one’s car during the entire license suspension period plus the court-ordered period thereafter. Failure to comply with this requirement may result in the Motor Vehicle Commission refusing to restore the individual’s driving privileges. 

Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 39:4-50.19, failing to install a court ordered IID in a vehicle operated by that individual may result in an additional one year driving privilege suspension, unless the court determines a valid reason exists for the failure to comply.  Moreover, a person in whose vehicle an interlock device is installed pursuant to a court order who drives that vehicle after it has been started by any means other than his own blowing into the device or who drives a vehicle that is not equipped with such a device shall have his driver’s license suspended for one year.

In addition, it is a criminal offense to do any of the following:

  • Blow into an interlock device or otherwise start a motor vehicle equipped with such a device for the purpose of providing an operable motor vehicle to a person who has been ordered by the court to install the device in the vehicle;
  • Tamper or in any way circumvent the operation of an interlock device; and
  • Knowingly rent, lease, or lend a motor vehicle not equipped with an interlock device to a person who has been ordered by the court to install an interlock device in a vehicle he owns, leases or regularly operates

A person committing any of the above-mentioned offenses is guilty of a disorderly persons offense and is punishable by up to six months and prison and a $1,000.00 fine.