Ignition interlock bill advances

TRENTON – Drivers found guilty of getting behind the wheel while intoxicated could be forced to have ignition interlocks installed in their vehicles, according to a proposal that cleared a Senate committee Monday.

The Senate Judiciary Committee released S2427, which would require courts to order the installation of the devices in vehicles belonging to people convicted of driving drunk. The bill is sponsored by Sen. Nicholas Scutari, (D-22), chairman of the Senate committee.

Under the proposal, an ignition interlock would be installed for three to six months for first-time offenders and seven months to one year for first-time offenders who register a blood alcohol concentration above .10 percent.

A second offender would be ordered to install the device for two to four years, and a third offense would require the interlock be installed for between 10 and 20 years.

Supporters of the legislation cheered the bill as a necessary and effective tool in combating drunk driving in the state. Opponents argued while the interlocks can be effective, they’re concerned about the mass implementation of the program.

“This is absolutely necessary,” Scutari said regarding his bill.

“In terms of behavior modification, this is the next best thing that we have,” he said. “I think the greatest way we can protect the public is not allow a car to be started [if someone is drunk].”

The committee also released several other bills from committee following little discussion:

S1873 would increase the mileage reimbursement rate for sheriffs, constables and other court officers for various duties performed to $0.58.

The bill cleared following a unanimous vote of approval.

S2092 would create new criminal offenses aimed at “cargo thieves” as it relates to the transportation of goods and merchandise. Under the bill, a person who commits theft from a carrier could be convicted of a crime in the second degree.

The bill cleared the committee unanimously.

S2399 would provide – under certain circumstances – the immediate issuance of marriage and civil union licenses at the time the license application is made. Currently, licenses could be issued within 72 hours.

The bill cleared the committee along party lines.

SJR60/AJR56 would designate Jan. 11 of each year as Human Trafficking Awareness Day