A bill that would reduce the license suspension period for motorists convicted of driving under the influence passed in the New Jersey Senate on Thursday.
Gov. Chris Christie's signature is the next necessary step to put the legislation into law, which would lower the penalty for first-time DUI offenders from three months to 10 days, the Associated Press reported.
While the license suspension period for those found with blood-alcohol levels between 0.08 and 0.10 percent would be shorter, the motorists would be required to put ignition locks on their cars.
Under the new law, convicted DUI offenders would have to pay to put a device on their car's ignition that would keep the vehicle from starting for blood alcohol readings of more than 0.5 percent. The ignition lock would stay on their vehicle to measure blood alcohol content for three months.
Drivers convicted with blood alcohol readings between 0.10 and 0.15 percent would be required to install ignition devices for seven months to a year.
The law would make New Jersey the 25th state to require ignition-locking devices, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving. The safety group has praised the legislation, saying that ignition-lock laws have reduced deaths related to drunken driving by 30 percent in states that have implemented them.
The measure "allows the person who's made this terrible mistake . . . to actually function in society without having to really change the way they do everything," Assemblyman Joe Lagana, D-Bergen, told the Philadelphia Inquirer. He noted that suspending a motorist's license doesn't guarantee that the DUI offender won't drive.
If the measure passes, a judge could still order license suspension for the motorist involved rather than the ignition device "under aggravating circumstances."