Governor Chris Christie of NJ has rejected legislation that would have allowed Judges to sharply reduce licensing suspensions for DWI and allow for the installation of ignition interlock devices instead. In fact, in vetoing the legislation, the Governor actually proposed expanding the use of te interlock devices thereby actually increasing penalities for DWI.
Under the origional bill, for a first offense for DWI with a reading of .08 to .10, a defendant would face an interlock of three months and for a reading of .10 to .15 a interlock for seven months to a year. Above .15, a defendant woud face a seven to twelve month suspensaion but could apply for the interlock after ninety days. For a second offense, a defendant would face a suspension of two to fours years instead of the current two years. For a third or more offense, a defendant would face a suspension of ten to twenty years instead of the current ten years. The law also provided for interlock devices after suspension on a second and third offense and would also make it a disorderly persons offense punishable up to six months in jail for tampering with the interlock.
The Governor’s veto requires an interlock device in conjunction with every offense. For a first offense with a reading of .08 to .10, the veto provides for an interlock of three to six months after suspension. For a reading of .10 or more, the interlock must be installed for six to eighteen months after suspension depending on the alcotest reading. For a second or subsequent offense, the veto would impose up to eighteen months to four years of an interlock device after suspension.
The Governors conditional veto is unlikely to pass the Legislature according to the law’s sponsor, Senator Nicholas Scutari. Nor is an override likely according to the Senator. The law was supported by Mothers Against Drunk Driving and AAA with the belief that suspensions do not keep people off the raod, people drive anyway and that interlocks are more effective at keeping drunk drivers off the road. Looks like the issue is dead for now.