SENATE BUDGET AND APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE

 

STATEMENT TO

 

[First Reprint]

SENATE, No. 2427

 

with committee amendments

 

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

 

DATED:JUNE 24, 2013

 

††††† The Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee reports favorably Senate Bill No. 2427 (1R), with committee amendments.

††††† As amended, this bill revises penalties for various drunk driving offenses.† These revisions include mandating the installation of an ignition interlock device in the one or more motor vehicles owned, leased, or principally operated by the offender and the operation of such vehicles under a restricted use driverís license, or alternatively, mandating the offenderís forfeiture of the right to operate a motor vehicle if the offender instead does not own or lease a motor vehicle and there is no vehicle the offender principally operates.

††††† Whenever a person commits the offense of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (R.S.39:50-4) or refusing to submit to a breath test (section 2 of P.L.1966, c.142 (C.39:4-50.2)), the person would be required to install an ignition interlock device: in one motor vehicle owned, leased, or principally operated by the person, whichever vehicle the person most often operates, if a first offender; and in each motor vehicle owned, leased, or principally operated, if a second or subsequent offender.† A court would first order the suspension of the personís driverís license for a period of 10 days, during which period the person would have to install the appropriate number of devices, unless the person presented to the court at the time of sentencing satisfactory proof that the one or more devices are already installed; and additionally, for a second or subsequent offense, the person during this same 10-day period would be required to obtain a restricted use driverís license with various court ordered driving restrictions, issued by the Chief Administrator of the Motor Vehicle Commission in order to operate each affected motor vehicle.† If the person did not own or lease a motor vehicle and there was no vehicle the person principally operated, the court would instead order the person to forfeit his right to operate a motor vehicle over the highways of this State.†

††††† For a first offender whose blood alcohol concentration is 0.08% or higher but less than 0.10%, the device would remain installed for a period of not less than three months or more than six months, commencing immediately upon the restoration of the offenderís driverís license after the 10-day period of license suspension or as indicated on the court order if no suspension occurs due to the prior installation of the device (with satisfactory proof of installation to the court).† This designated installation period would be subject to possible extension for an additional period equal to one-third of the originally designated period, for attempting to operate the affected motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or higher during the last one-third of the installation period, or for failing to present the affected vehicle for device servicing at any time during the installation period.† This extension would occur without need of further court order, following notification of the event to the court by the chief administrator, which notification would be supported by a certification from the ignition interlock device manufacturer, installer, or other party set forth in regulation responsible for the servicing or monitoring of the device.

††††† For a first offender whose blood alcohol concentration is 0.10% or higher, or for driving under the influence of drugs, or for refusing to submit to a breath test, the ignition interlock device would remain installed for a period of not less than seven months or more than one year, again commencing immediately upon the restoration of the offenderís driverís license after the 10-day period of license suspension or as indicated on the court order if no suspension occurs due to the prior installation of the device (with satisfactory proof of installation to the court).† As before, the designated installation period would be subject to possible extension in the same manner as stated above.

††††† For any first offender who does not own or lease a motor vehicle, or if there is no motor vehicle the offender principally operates, the court would instead order forfeiture of the offenderís right to operate a motor vehicle, with the period of forfeiture being the same as the period for which the ignition interlock device would have been installed (not less than three months or more than six months; or not less than seven months or more than one year, if a higher blood alcohol concentration, under the influence of drugs, or refusing to submit to a breath test).

††††† For a second offender, regardless of the level of blood alcohol concentration, or for driving under the influence of drugs, or for refusing to submit to a breath test, the one or more devices would remain installed for a period of not less than two years or more than four years, subject to possible extension in the same manner as stated above, and the offender would also be required to obtain a restricted use driverís license, which the offender would use to operate each affected motor vehicle for at least the first year of the ignition interlock installation period but for not more than the maximum duration of that period, as ordered by the court.† Similar to the possible extension of the designated ignition interlock installation period, the period for operating with a restricted use driverís license would be subject to extension, via notice by the chief administrator to the court, for an additional period equal to one-third of the originally designated restricted use driverís license period, for attempting to operate the affected motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or higher during the last one-third of the device installation period, or for failing to present each affected vehicle for device servicing at any time during the installation period. ††

††††† During the restricted use licensing period, such license would limit the offender to driving for the purpose of traveling to and from the offenderís place of employment or for pursuing employment, and as otherwise permitted as set forth in the court order.† For a second offender who does not own or lease a motor vehicle, or if there is no motor vehicle the offender principally operates, the period of forfeiture of the right to operate a motor vehicle on the second offense would be the same as the period for which the ignition interlock device would have been installed (not less than two years or more than four years).

††††† For a third and subsequent offender, regardless of the level of blood alcohol concentration, or for driving under the influence of drugs, or for refusing to submit to a breath test, the one or more devices would remain installed for a period of not less than 10 years or more than 20 years, and the offender would be required to obtain a restricted use driverís license, which the offender would use to operate each affected motor vehicle for at least the first year of the ignition interlock installation period but for not more than the maximum duration of that period, as ordered by the court.† Both the ignition interlock installation period and restricted use driverís license period would be subject to possible extension in the same manner as stated above.† For a third or subsequent offender who does not own or lease a motor vehicle, or if there is no motor vehicle the offender principally operates, the period of forfeiture of the right to operate a motor vehicle on the third or subsequent offense would be the same as the period for which the ignition interlock device would have been installed (not less than 10 years or more than 20 years).

††††† If the driving privilege of a person was already under revocation or suspension for a violation of Title 2C, New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice, or Title 39, Motor Vehicles and Traffic Regulations, at the time of a conviction for a drunk driving offense, the above described 10-day period of license suspension and the requirement to install the one or more ignition interlock devices would commence immediately, and the devices would thereafter remain installed after the date of termination of that existing revocation or suspension for the specified installation period associated with a first, second, third, or subsequent offense; but the requirement to obtain a restricted use driverís license, if applicable, would commence as of the date of termination of the existing revocation or suspension period.† In the case of any person who at the time of imposition of a sentence is less than 17 years of age, the 10-day period of license suspension and requirement to install the device would likewise commence immediately, run through the offenderís 17th birthday, and continue from that date for the specified installation period associated with a first, second, third, or subsequent offense; but the requirement to obtain a restricted use driverís license, if applicable, would commence as of the date of termination of the existing forfeiture, suspension, or revocation period.

††††† With respect to all cases for which a person has been ordered to install one or more ignition interlock devices, the court would notify the Chief Administrator of the Motor Vehicle Commission.† The commission would thereafter require that the one or more devices be installed before issuance of a restricted use driverís license or the reinstatement of the personís driverís license.† The commission would imprint a notation on the restricted use driverís license or reinstated driverís license stating that the person could not operate a motor vehicle unless it is equipped with an ignition interlock device, and would enter this requirement in the person's driving record.

††††† In order to obtain a restricted use driverís license, a person would have to make an application to the chief administrator.† The person would have to certify in the application: (1) the one or more vehicles in which the ignition interlock device is installed, as indicated in the court order, and include a copy of the court order with the application; (2) the personís place of employment and the hours during which the person is employed, and the manner in which the person is required to operate a motor vehicle as a condition of employment, if applicable; (3) the hours during which, and the locations between which, it is necessary for the person to personally operate a motor vehicle; and (4) the personís understanding of the limited driving conditions, set forth in the court order supplied with the application, for which the person is permitted to operate any motor vehicle in which an ignition interlock device is installed.† The chief administrator would issue the restricted use driverís license upon satisfying all of the above criteria.

††††† The restricted use driverís license would be in a form prescribed by the chief administrator and be issued in accordance with procedures established by the chief administrator.† The license would be of a color selected by the chief administrator, which readily distinguishes it from other driver's licenses issued by this State.† The chief administrator could impose a fee of not more than $25 for the issuance of a restricted use driverís license.† Along with the restricted use driverís license, the chief administrator would issue a restricted use driverís placard, the size, material, and form of which determined by the chief administrator, to each approved licensee.† The placard would be the same color as the restricted use driverís license.† The licensee would be required to prominently display the placard in the rear window, or other location determined by the chief administrator, of any motor vehicle equipped with an ignition interlock device for which the restricted use driverís license is issued.

††††† A person who fails to install an ignition interlock device as ordered by a court, or who drives a device-equipped vehicle after being started by means other than the person blowing into the device, or who drives an unequipped vehicle, would be guilty of a disorderly personís offense.† A disorderly personís offense is ordinarily punishable by a term of imprisonment of up to six months, a fine of up to $1,000, or both.† Furthermore, the court would suspend the personís driverís license for the period of time associated with a person who does not own or lease a motor vehicle and there is no vehicle that person principally operates, except that the applicable period applied by the court would be the period for a second offense (not less than two years or more than four years) if the underlying act was committed by a first offender, and would be the period for a third or subsequent offense (not less than 10 years or more than 20 years) if the underlying act was committed by a second offender.

††††† Additionally, with respect to the restricted use driverís license, a person would be guilty of a disorderly persons offense for: (1) deliberately falsifying an application for a restricted use driverís license, including alteration of the court order supplied with the application; (2) operating a motor vehicle corresponding to the restricted use driverís license in a manner that is inconsistent with the court order setting forth the conditions under which the license was obtained and to be used; (3) failing to maintain, while operating that motor vehicle, a copy of the court order, for presentation upon request by a law enforcement officer or other authority, setting forth the conditions for which the person is permitted to operate the motor vehicle, or failing to keep prominently displayed the restricted use driverís placard on the motor vehicle for which the restricted use driverís license is issued; or (4) operating any motor vehicle other than the motor vehicle for which the restricted use driverís license is issued.† In addition to other available penalties under the law, the court would immediately suspend the personís restricted use driverís license and order the forfeiture of the personís right to operate a motor vehicle over the highways of this State for a period that is the equivalent of the period of forfeiture imposed upon a person for driving under the influence (R.S.39:4-50) who does not own or lease a motor vehicle and there is no vehicle the person principally operates, except that the applicable period applied by the court would be the period for a third or subsequent offense (not less than 10 years or more than 20 years).

††††† The bill also addresses periods of incarceration and community service requirements for persons who commit multiple offenses generally (but not those more serious offenses that occur on school property or involve driving through a school crossing (detailed in subsection (g) of R.S.39:4-50)).† Under the bill, a person with a second drunk driving related offense would be sentenced to imprisonment for a term of not more than 90 days, except that the court could lower this term for each day served participating in a drug or alcohol inpatient rehabilitation program approved by the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center.† Similarly, while a person with a third or subsequent drunk driving offense would be sentenced to imprisonment, the court could also lower this term for each day served participating in an approved drug or alcohol inpatient rehabilitation program.† In both instances, there would be no cap on the potential number of days reduced from the term of imprisonment.† As to the community service requirements, the bill would establish that a person with a third or subsequent drunk driving offense be required to perform community service for a period of not less than 60 days, which would be in the form and on the terms as the court shall deem appropriate under the circumstances; this new community service requirement for a third or subsequent offense would exceed the current requirement placed upon a person with a second offense, which is the performance of community service for a period of 30 days.†

 

COMMITTEE AMENDMENTS:

††††† The committee amendments:

††††† - clarify throughout the bill that a second and subsequent offender would be required to install an ignition interlock device in each motor vehicle owned, leased, or principally operated by the offender, as distinguished from a first offender, who would be required to install the device in one motor vehicle owned, leased, or principally operated, whichever vehicle that offender most often operates;

††††† - provide for the possible extension of a device installation period for an additional period equal to one-third of the originally designated installation period, for attempting to operate an affected motor vehicle in which the ignition interlock device is installed, with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or higher during the last one-third of the installation period, or for failing to present an affected vehicle for device servicing at any time during the installation period, as described above;

††††† - also provide for the possible extension of a restricted use driverís license period for an additional period, equal to one-third of the originally designated licensing period, in the same manner as applicable to an extension of a device installation period; and

††††† - give the Chief Administrator of the Motor Vehicle Commission express authority to determine the size, material, and form of the restricted use driverís placard to be issued to any repeat offender who is required to obtain a restricted use driverís license.

 

FISCAL IMPACT:

††††† In the Legislative Fiscal Estimate prepared by the Office of Legislative Services (OLS) for this bill, the OLS states that the cost to the MVC is indeterminate.† The OLS notes that the bill would require a minor redesign of the existing driverís license in order to identify a location on the license for the display of a driverís restricted use status.† The MVC has existing staff capable of such design work on the license, but that would consume MVC staff hours.† Once a location for such a designation is decided it would be necessary to work with the current driverís license vendor to redesign the software that produces driverís licenses in order to incorporate those changes.† The MVC periodically makes change orders of this type, but the OLS does not have access to the cost or nature of these change orders, so it is not possible to derive an estimate from a comparable change order.

††††† The OLS also notes that the MVC must accommodate such a change in the ongoing upgrades to its technology system, known as MATRX.† These upgrades include actions such as updating the computer language used on legacy MVC databases, allowing the MVC to conduct basic transactions online, and developing a computer framework that would allow for mobile or temporary MVC locations.† Based on consultation with the MVC staff, it appears that any MATRX related programming can be conducted by the Office of Information Technology (OIT), but would likely require an eventual change order to be filed with the MATRX vendor.† The MVC has indicated that such a change order would be similar in scope to other orders that the MVC has made, and that such an order would not be billed separately, but is likely to be batched with those other orders as part of a negotiated cost package.† This would make it difficult to identify the cost of the change orders, even after the work has been performed.† The bill would also require that the MVC establish new application forms to administer the program and oversee the design and production of a new placard to be displayed in vehicles with the ignition interlock devices.† The design work on these items will entail further expense, as will the staff cost to administer this program.

††††† The OLS states that these costs would be mitigated to some extent by allowing a $25 fee to be charged for each restricted use driverís license; however, $24 is charged for a standard license, so this amount would likely only be sufficient to cover the cost of the license itself.† The upfront cost of establishing this license program, as well as the cost of the placards and computer system changes would not be recovered through the fee.† Based upon information provided to OLS in the past by the MVC, the cost of the programming changes could range from $25,000 to over $100,000; however OLS lacks the information necessary to independently verify these price ranges.† There is also likely to be approximately $10,000 in costs for the placard design and initial production costs.† While there would be an additional burden on direct customer service staff to serve those requiring restricted licenses, it is expected that the impact of that workload would not entail the hiring of additional employees.† It may be necessary for the MVC to hire an additional professional staff member to administer the program, and the expected cost of a manager at that level would be roughly $60,000 with an additional $30,000 in benefits, supplies, etc. for a total cost of employment of approximately $90,000.† This would result in a rough estimate for the full cost of the bill to a range of between $125,000 - $200,000 in the first year, with recurring costs of approximately $95,000 composed of $90,000 for a dedicated staff member and $5,000 for program materials.

††††† The OLS states that the Judiciary would likely incur indeterminate but nominal costs for court time in processing these cases and in monitoring community service performed by offenders.† The OLS notes that the availability of community service and participation in a treatment program to reduce the jail sentence imposed on second time offenders would reduce the costs that would otherwise accrue to the counties for housing these offenders.