On August 23, 2019 new laws signed expanding the use of ignition interlock device for those convicted of drunk driving offenses and of refusing breath tests. The legislation (S824) also reduces the length of license suspension and forfeitures for these offenses. This is the most significant change to DWI law in 40 years.
While the new law changes suspension periods for DWI and refusal to take a breath test by reducing suspensions there will still be suspensions of driving priviligies for up to 8 years with interlock devices for up to 4 years, $3000 DMV surcharges for each offense and Intoxicated Drivers Resource Center (IDRC) requirements. Insurance carriers will still either drop drivers as insureds or only issue policies after huge rate increases.
Representation by competent counsel is still a necessity.
This law requires that first time offenders install ignition interlock devices (IID), at a cost to the offender. IIDs and suspensions from then on are based upon the severity of the offense.
First-time offenders with BAC of 0.08 to 0.10 must install ignition interlock at their own cost and maintain it for a period of six months. There will be a license suspension of 30 days.
Those individuals with a BAC of 0.10 to 0.15 will be required to also install ignition interlock device at their own cost, maintain same for minimum six months up to one year the license suspension of 45 days.
Any individuals with a BAC higher than 0.15 will be required to install in ignition interlock device at their own cost for a minimum of one year up to 18 months and having license suspension of 90 days.
Additionally, there will be a mandatory interlock device for refusal to take a breathalyzer.
Enhanced penalties for DWI with any school zone will be eliminated.
This new law will become effective in December 2019.
While the driving suspension privileges have been significantly reduced other provisions have been enhanced. Representation by competent legal counsel still highly recommended as the penalties are still significant and subsequent offenses still carry with them significant enhanced penalties.
For a first offense of drunk driving, the offender's driver's license is to be forfeited until an IID is installed in one motor vehicle owned, leased, or principally operated by the offender, whichever the person most often operates.
If the offender's blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was 0.08% or higher, but less than 0.10%, or the offender was convicted of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor without a BAC reading, the current three-month license forfeiture is replaced with mandatory IID installation for three months.
If the offender's BAC was 0.10% or higher, but less than 0.15%, the current license forfeiture of seven months to one year is replaced with the requirement that an IID is to be installed for seven months to one year.
If the offender's BAC was 0.15% or more, the current license forfeiture of seven months to one year is replaced by four to six months license forfeiture and an IID is to be installed during the period of license forfeiture, as well as for not less than nine months or more than 15 months after the period of license forfeiture.
For second drunk driving offenses, the current driver's license forfeiture is 2 years and for third and subsequent offenses, the forfeiture is for 10 years; the IID requirement is for 1 to 3 years.
Under the new law, license forfeiture is reduced to 1 to 2 years for second time offenders and to eight years for third and subsequent offenders; the requirement that IID be installed in one motor vehicle owned, leased, or principally operated by the offender, whichever the person most often operates, is increased to two to four years. This increase carries with it a significant financial burden for the individual as interlock devices are paid to be installed, at the prepaid to be removed, and are rented during the time they are in use.
The license forfeiture period for first-time offenders of driving under the influence of drugs remains unchanged. Further, installation of an IID is not required for first offenses of driving under the influence of drugs or narcotics. One of the logical reasons for this is the IID is designed to register alcohol and not drugs.
The provision establishing enhanced penalties for a conviction of driving while intoxicated in a school zone is removed as opposed to the alternative which would have been to only enforce the enhanced penalties while school was in session.
For a first offense, the offender's driver's license is to be forfeited until the person installs an IID in a motor vehicle owned, leased, or principally operated by the person, if more than one vehicle is owned then whichever vehicle the person most often operates, rather than requiring the current seven months to one year loss of license. The IID is to remain installed during the license forfeiture and for the following 9 to 15 months as ordered by the court.
For a second offense, the period of license forfeiture has been amended from the current two years to one to two years as ordered by the court. The offender's license is to be forfeited until an IID is installed and is to remain installed for 2 to 4 years as ordered by the court.
For a third or subsequent offense, the new law decreases the license forfeiture from the current 10 years to 8 years. An IID would be required during the license forfeiture and remain installed for 2 to 4 years as ordered by the court.
The provision establishing enhanced penalties for a conviction of refusing to submit to a breathalyzer occurring in a school zone is removed same as for the DWI.
If you have been charged with a DWI or refusal to take a breath test call Albert J. Rescinio, Esq. immediately at 732-531-2005.