New Jersey's new drunk-driving law goes into effect Sunday.

The law, passed earlier this year, mandated ignition interlock devices for all drunk-driving offenders, including those convicted for the first time. The devices prevent a car from being turned on if a driver blows an intoxicated breath sample.

The new law also loosens penalties and license suspensions that critics had said made it difficult for offenders to get to work.

The law requires that first-time offenders and those who refused to submit to a breath test install ignition interlock devices, which they will have to pay for.

Previously, the devices were only required for repeat offenders or those who had a blood-alcohol content of at least 0.15%. Under the new law, offenders need have just a 0.08% BAC, the legal minimum. Those with higher BACs, however, will have to use the device for longer periods of time.

For first-time offenders with BAC of up to 0.10%, the ignition interlock will have to be used for six months following a license suspension of 30 days (previously three months).

For offenders with a BAC of up to 0.15%, the device must be used for six months to a year following a license suspension of 45 days (previously seven months to a year).

For offenders with a BAC higher than 0.15%, the device must be used for one year to 18 months after the license suspension of 90 days.

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Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email

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