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Car-ignition locks might be required for all DWI offenders

New Jersey lawmakers are considering a bill that would require motorists convicted of drunken driving to install an ignition-locking device that measures alcohol on their breath. The device works similar to a Breathalyzer. Drivers must blow into a tube before they start their car, and if alcohol is detected, the vehicle will not start.

New Jersey law currently requires the device only for repeat offenders or for those who are at nearly twice the legal limit. The proposed bill would extend the requirement to first-time DUI/DWI offenders.

According to the state legislative affairs manager for Mothers Against Drunk Driving, 2,500 ignition devices were installed in the first two years after the implementation in 2010 of the current law. New Jersey is among 16 states that require ignition interlocks for all convicted drivers.

As this story illustrates, a DUI/DWI conviction can result in harsh consequences even if it is your first offense. New Jersey's first-offense penalties for driving with a blood alcohol content of .08 or .09 may include a 3-month or more suspension of your driver's license, fines in excess of $500, annual surcharges of $1,000 for 3 years, and jail time up to 30 days.

Driving under the influence may also escalate the charges for any other violations that occurred. For example, whereas a sober driver might be charged with a minor traffic infraction, an accident that was alcohol or drug-related can escalate to a charge of vehicular assault, which is a felony.

If you have been charged with alcohol-related charge, you are at the beginning of a long legal process. You will face many court appearances and other challenges. At a time like that, you need an attorney by your side to ensure you are treated fairly.

Source: The Star-Ledger, "N.J. aims to get tougher on first-time DWI offenders," MaryAnn Spoto, June 21, 2012

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