The Ignition Interlock Requirement for Out of State Drivers

The ignition interlock requirement, which went into effect in January 2010, is a relatively recent development under New Jersey DWI law.  Under the new law, first-time DWI offenders whose blood alcohol content (“BAC”) is 0.15% or higher must install the interlock device in their vehicle.  Moreover, those individuals convicted of a subsequent DWI – regardless of their BAC – are required to install the interlock device.

Often times, our DWI clients are licensed in a state other than New Jersey.  One of the questions that arise in these cases is whether or not the individual is required to install the ignition interlock device on their vehicle.  In an article entitled “Ignition Interlock Device FAQs,” the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission has stated the following on this topic:  

When I resided in New Jersey, I was issued a DWI but have since moved to another state. I was told by the ignition interlock companies in the state where I now live that I am not required to have the device installed on any vehicle. Is this true? What should I do?

No, this is not true. Installation of the interlock device is a condition for having your license restored in New Jersey. Your privilege is suspended in New Jersey and will remain suspended until you have satisfied all requirements for restoration. An interlock device needs to be placed on any vehicle you operate in order for you to be restored. Failure to do so will keep you suspended in NJ, which may prevent your new state from issuing you a license.

View the entire article here:

While this statement answers the question of whether or not a New Jersey licensed driver who subsequently moves out of state must comply with the ignition interlock requirement, it does not answer the question as to whether or not an individual who is licensed and who resides in another state must comply with the law.  Although the issue of what New Jersey can order out-of-state drivers to do is fairly complicated, the consensus on this subject is as follows.

If you are licensed and reside in another state, New Jersey cannot force your home state’s DMV to require you to install an interlock device on your vehicle. States treat the requirement for the installation of the ignition interlock device differently.  Therefore, you should check with your state’s DMV to determine whether or not your home state, in addition to New Jersey, will impose the ignition interlock requirement.

New Jersey can, however, require you to install the ignition interlock device on any vehicle you operate in the state of New Jersey.  Moreover, even if your home state does not impose the ignition interlock requirement, you should install the device on your vehicle.  Since the imposition of the interlock device is court ordered, the New Jersey MVC will need to see proof that the device was installed in order to lift your suspension.  Even if you never drive in New Jersey again, when you go to renew your home state’s license, your home state will check the National Driver Register, which will show a suspension of your New Jersey driving privileges. Your home state, in turn, will most likely not allow you to renew your license until you clear the New Jersey suspension.

Interlock devices are oftentimes an overlooked DWI penalty.  However, because of the mandatory installation periods, these devices can remain on your vehicle long after your conviction.  An experienced DUI attorney can challenge your case in ways which can protect you from these penalties.  To find out more please call (732) 741-4448 for a free consultation.