THE BLOG
07/08/2014 12:25 pm ET | Updated Sep 07, 2014

More Reasons Not to Drink and Drive

As if you needed any.

Everybody probably hates a preachy lawyer, or a preachy anybody. But if someone whose profession is laden with responsibility and ethical obligations, we sometimes have to take the chance of being perceived in that way. The problem is that we see first hand the effects of this no-win activity and are often called upon to represent folks who have done what they knew they shouldn't have, often with unparalleled consequences. Many lives have been ruined or significantly and adversely affected by the impulse or lost moments of judgment, and that includes, the victims of an accident caused by a drunk driver, the driver himself, who can face loss of license, loss of employment, loss of family, and loss of his or her own life. So if my so called preaching will save one life or one family or one license, hopefully many more,
I will risk being deemed preachy.

The laws continue to increase in severity. Mandatory sentencing for DUI is far more widespread than the old days. Jails are not fun, and some people with the most laudatory background find out that they are anything but. Loss of license will have a crushing offense on employment potential and families and marriages are ruined.

Now, something has been added to the mix. The ignition interlock. Many states are now requiring this device be installed even for first offenders.

Even before they have started to serve their operator's license suspension.

Even if they don't own a car that they drive. And they are expensive.

Hard to believe, but the expense of these devices makes the whole experience that much more painful.

In New Jersey, for example, those who have been convicted of driving while under the influence, even if it is the very first time, may be required even before their suspension has started, to install this contraption, on their car, even if others in the family own or operate it. The Judge has the option as to whether this restrictive measure must be imposed under limited circumstances. If the blood alcohol level is .15 or less, there was no refusal to take the test, no occurrence in a school zone. it must remain on the car for 7 months to 1 year. Two years, of course, if it is a second offense, and a ten-year period if there is a third offense....

When the defendant has installed the Interlock Device, who suffers? The rest of the family members suffer, wife, child, whoever, are the ones that suffers. That person has to breathe into the device before they may drive. Suppose there is a malfunction, and an emergency situation is further complicated. Suppose they have asthma or some other respiratory impediment. The device stays on the vehicle for the entire time of the suspension and for a period of time thereafter. Not to mention the huge expense of its installation.

Merely because the suspension time is up, does not mean the car or its primary driver can become unrestricted. Each must endure all the other steps that motor vehicle requires before a license can be regained. Some devices must remain on the vehicle beyond the effective suspension termination date.

The device must be on a vehicle that is owned, leased, or regularly operated. In 2010, the legislature 39:4-50.17 provided that a first offender may still be required even past the period of suspension to install the device, even though a prior enactment says the exact opposite and the statute is totally contradictory.

It would take a journal to recite the plethora of variations in ignition interlock
fact patterns. The main purpose here is to just offer one more deterrent to driving while under the influence or even after simply ingesting alcohol, no matter how much. It is not worth the chance. Injuries or death where alcohol might have had the least contribution to the event will result in a mandatory state prison sentence. Usually severe. OK, I have preached. Hopefully, the urgings have sunk in.

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