Statement on Passage of NJ Impaired Driving Legislation

  • June 21, 2019
150 150 Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety


Contact: Tara Gill, 202-408-1711, 

Statement of Cathy Chase, President, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, Traffic Fatalities in New Jersey Are On The Rise, An All-Offender Ignition Interlock Device (IID) Law Will Curb Drunk Driving And Save Lives                                 

Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Advocates) commends the New Jersey Legislature for passing Senate Bill (S.) 824 to require the use of ignition interlock devices (IIDs) by all convicted drunk drivers, including first time offenders, and urges Governor Phil Murphy (D) to swiftly sign the measure into law.  This research-proven countermeasure prevents drunk drivers from starting a vehicle and getting behind the wheel while impaired.

Drunk driving is a deadly and costly threat to New Jersey families.  In 2017, 192 people were needlessly killed in alcohol-involved crashes on New Jersey roads, accounting for 32 percent of all traffic fatalities, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).  The vast majority of these fatalities, 79 percent, involved a driver over the limit of .08 percent blood alcohol content (BAC) (NHTSA).  Moreover, all traffic crashes cost the state over $12.8 billion each year (NHTSA).  Traffic crashes in the state have also increased four years in a row from 2014 to 2017 (NHTSA).  Clearly, this is a serious issue on New Jersey roads which merits urgent attention.  Expanding the current law to require all first time offenders to use IIDs would improve the effectiveness of the state’s IID program.

IIDs are technological solutions that reduce drunk driving-related deaths and injuries.  A common misconception is that most people who are convicted of their first drunk driving offense are social drinkers who made one mistake.  However, studies show that the average first offender will have driven drunk 87 times before getting arrested.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), adult drivers admitted they drank too much and got behind the wheel approximately 111 million times in 2016, which equals over 300,000 incidents of drinking and driving each day.  However, only 1 million, or approximately one percent, were arrested for driving under the influence that year.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) found that between 2006 and 2016, IID laws stopped 2.3 million attempts to drive drunk across the nation.  The NHTSA has also found that these laws reduce recidivism for both first-time and repeat drunk driving offenders.  Currently, 33 states, including neighboring New York and Delaware, and the District of Columbia (DC) have all-offender IID laws.  But, that is not enough.  Every state should require this technological vaccine against the epidemic of drunk driving.

Public support for these laws is strong with surveys showing between 69 and 88 percent of respondents in favor of requiring ignition interlocks for all convicted DUI offenders, even if it’s their first conviction.  We urge Governor Murphy to listen to this public support for the measure and take action that will send a clear message that drunk driving will not be tolerated.  We have proven solutions to protect New Jersey families and visitors.  It is past time to implement them and eradicate drunk driving.