Way back in 2015 New Jersey Governor Chris Christie vetoed an ignition interlock bill that would have toughened the state’s stance on drunk driving. He wasn’t against ignition interlocks; he just felt the bill was on the lenient side and he didn’t believe that giving drunk driving offenders a short driver’s license suspension and ignition interlock requirement would stop the state’s drunk drivers.
Fast forward to 2017 and lawmakers in New Jersey are debating an all offender ignition interlock law again. This time the bill states that ignition interlocks would be mandatory for first time offenders for a period of three to eighteen months, and how long they’d use the ignition interlock would depend on what their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was at the time of arrest. Ignition interlocks would also be required for any repeat offender or any person refusing to submit to a breathalyzer.
Lawmakers are confident this is the bill that will take New Jersey from a state where ignition interlocks are only occasionally required to an all offender interlock state, and if they do pass it New Jersey will align with a growing majority of states to pass these life-saving laws.
If New Jersey needs support in passing their ignition interlock law they just need to look to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Both have cited research that indicates that as soon as a state passes an ignition interlock law, they immediately see a drop in fatalities. Some states have seen a drop as significant as 40%.
Let’s hope this is the ignition interlock bill that Chris Christie chooses to put his signature on, if and when it makes it to his desk, and New Jersey joins other states in improving their roads with tougher drunk driving laws.