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Senate Panel Advances Engine Interlock Bill

By Phil Gregory, WBGO News
Trenton. June 24, 2013

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The bill's sponsor, Senator Nick Scutari, testifies before Senate Budget Committee (photo by Phil Gregory)

The New Jersey Senate’s budget committee has advanced a measure that would require a convicted drunk driver to equip their car with an ignition interlock device.

The bill’s primary sponsor, Senator Nick Scutari, says the interlock would replace license suspensions for people convicted of drunk driving.

 “It’s going to allow people to maintain their employment, but it’s really going to safeguard the public by not allowing people to repeat offend because it’s going to basically not allow them to start their car if they’re inebriated.”

Scurari says the interlock may require the driver to blow into the device at random intervals while behind the wheel.

 “So if someone does try to start the vehicle and does it for you and you’re going for a distance and it may pop up again if they’re not with you.  To me that makes absolutely no sense because if there’s someone sober enough to blow in the vehicle why don’t they just drive.”

Senator Jeff Van Drew voted against the bill because he’s not sure it will keep repeat drunk drivers off the road.

 “They have to either be imprisoned or go into rehab for at least 90 days and straighten themselves out. I don’t know if they should immediately be back on the road with or without an interlock.”

Van Drew is also concerned those drivers could get behind the wheel of other vehicles not equipped with the interlock device.

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