LEGISLATIVE FISCAL ESTIMATE

[First Reprint]

SENATE COMMITTEE SUBSTITUTE FOR

SENATE, No. 385

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

216th LEGISLATURE

 

DATED: NOVEMBER 14, 2014

 

 

SUMMARY

 

Synopsis:

Revises penalty provisions for certain drunk driving offenses, including use of and applicable time periods covering driverís license suspensions and installations of ignition interlock devices on motor vehicles.

Type of Impact:

Increased State Costs

Agencies Affected:

New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission, Judiciary, County Jails

 

Office of Legislative Services Estimate

Fiscal Impact

Year 1

Year 2

Year 3

 

State Cost

Indeterminate Ė See comments below

 

 

 

 

       The Judiciary would likely incur indeterminate but nominal costs for court time in processing these cases.

       The New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) would incur costs for a minor redesign of the existing driverís license in order to indicate a driverís restricted use status.† The MVC has existing staff capable of designing the license, but that would consume MVC staff hours.† Once a location for a restricted use designation is decided, it would be necessary to work with the current driverís license vendor to revise the software that produces driverís licenses in order to incorporate those changes.

       The MVC would also incur staffing expenses to monitor and inspect the installation of interlock devices.

 

 

BILL DESCRIPTION

 

††††† The First Reprint of the Senate Committee Substitute for Senate Bill No. 385 of 2014 revises the penalty provisions for various drunk driving offenses, particularly making changes concerning the use of, and applicable time periods covering, driverís license suspensions and installations of ignition interlock devices on motor vehicles owned or operated by these drivers.

††††† Drunk Driving

††††† Concerning the offense of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (R.S.39:50-4), the bill revises the relevant penalty provisions as follows:

††††† For a first offense, if that offense involved a personís blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or higher but less than 0.10 percent, or otherwise operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor, the court would order a 10-day license suspension, during which the person would have to install an ignition interlock device in one motor vehicle owned, leased, or principally operated by the person, whichever the person most often operates, for three months, unless the court was clearly convinced, based on a series of aggravating factors outweighing mitigating ones as set forth in the bill, to instead order a license suspension of three months (the three month suspension would also apply instead of device installation if the person did not own or lease a motor vehicle and there was no motor vehicle the person principally operated).†

††††† The aggravating and mitigating factors for consideration by the court to order a license suspension instead of device installation would include, but not be limited to: the nature and circumstances of the personís conduct, including whether such conduct posed a high risk of danger to the public; the personís driving record; whether the character and attitude of the person indicate that the person would be likely or unlikely to commit another violation; and the need for personal or general deterrence.

††††† If the court did order the installation of the ignition interlock device, the personís driverís license would only be reinstated within the 10-day suspension/device installation period by the MVC upon showing proof of such installation, and the commission would imprint a notation concerning driving with the device on the personís driverís license.

††††† Additionally, for a person with an ignition interlock device installed, the three-month 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 percent 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 of the MVC, 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.

††††† If the first offense involved a personís blood alcohol concentration of 0.10 percent or higher but less than 0.15 percent, the court would order a 10-day license suspension, during which the person would have to install an ignition interlock device in one motor vehicle owned, leased, or principally operated by the person, whichever the person most often operates, for not less than seven months or more than one year, unless the court was clearly convinced, based on the series of aggravating factors outweighing the mitigating ones as described above, to instead order a license suspension of not less than seven months or more than one year (the seven month to one year suspension would also apply instead of device installation if the person did not own or lease a motor vehicle and there was no motor vehicle the person principally operated).† As above, if the person was ordered to install an ignition interlock device, the person could only reinstate the personís driverís license through the MVC upon showing proof of such installation, and could have the installation period extended by an additional period equal to one-third of the originally designated period in the same manner as previously described.

††††† If the first offense involved a personís blood alcohol concentration of 0.15 percent or higher, the court would order a 10-day license suspension, during which the person would have to install an ignition interlock device in one motor vehicle owned, leased, or principally operated by the person, whichever the person most often operates, and maintain installation of the device during a period of license suspension of not less than seven months or more than one year and after license suspension for an additional period of not less than seven months or more than one year, unless there was no such vehicle, in which case the person would receive an initial period of suspension plus an additional period of suspension equal to the total period the person would have had an ignition interlock device installed.

††††† With respect to the license suspension of a person with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.15 percent or higher, the person would have the opportunity, beginning 90 days after the start of the suspension, to petition the court to reinstate the personís driving privileges for the duration of the initially ordered suspension period, subject to the person maintaining the installation of the ignition interlock device in the personís motor vehicle both for the remainder of the initially ordered suspension period and afterward for the additional seven-month to one-year period.† Additionally, a person whose driving privileges were suspended for an additional period because the person does not own or lease a motor vehicle and there is no motor vehicle the person principally operates, may petition the court that established the forfeiture period, upon proof of owning, leasing, or principally operating a motor vehicle, to reinstate the personís driving privileges for the duration of the initial and additional suspension period, subject to the person maintaining the installation of an ignition interlock device in that vehicle.† As above, a person ordered to install an ignition interlock device could only reinstate a driverís license through the MVC upon showing proof of such installation, and could have the installation period extended by an additional period equal to one-third of the originally designated period in the same manner as previously described.

††††† If the offense involved a ďdruggedĒ driver (i.e., operating a motor vehicle under the influence of a narcotic, hallucinogenic, or habit-producing drug), the court would order a license suspension of not less than seven months or more than one year, with no option to instead operate a motor vehicle with an ignition interlock device installed.

††††† For any such first offense of drunk or ďdruggedĒ driving occurring on or near a school property or crossing, the bill would eliminate any enhanced penalties currently available under the law and instead treat such an offense the same as all other first offenses.

††††† For a second offense, the bill increases, for all drunk and ďdruggedĒ drivers, the period of license suspension from the current lawís two years to instead a period of not less than two years or more than four years.† The court would order a 10-day license suspension, during which the person would have to install an ignition interlock device in each motor vehicle owned, leased, or operated by the person to be maintained during the two to four year suspension period, and to remain installed afterward for a period of not less than one year or more than three years, unless there was no such vehicle, in which case the person would receive an initial period of suspension plus an additional period of suspension equal to the total period the person would have had an ignition interlock device installed.

††††† With respect to a second offenderís license suspension, a person who does not own or lease a motor vehicle or have a motor vehicle the person operates may petition the court that established the forfeiture period, upon proof of owning, leasing, or operating a motor vehicle, to reinstate the personís driving privileges for the duration of the additional one to three year suspension period (not the initial two to four year period), subject to the person maintaining the installation of an ignition interlock device in that vehicle.

††††† As above for any first offender, a person who is a second offender ordered to install an ignition interlock device could only reinstate a driverís license through the MVC upon showing proof of such installation, and could have the installation period extended by an additional period equal to one-third of the originally designated period in the same manner as previously described for a first offender.††††

††††† For a second offense occurring on or near a school property or crossing, the bill would eliminate any enhanced penalties currently available under the law and instead treat such an offense the same as all other second offenses.

††††† For a third or subsequent offense, the bill increases, for all drunk and ďdruggedĒ drivers, the period of license suspension from the current lawís 10 years to instead a period of not less than 10 years or more than 20 years.† The court would order a 10-day license suspension, during which the person would have to install an ignition interlock device in each motor vehicle owned, leased, or operated by the person to be maintained during the 10 to 20 year suspension period, and to remain installed afterwards for a period of not less than one year or more than three years, unless there was no such vehicle, in which case the person would receive an initial period of suspension plus an additional period of suspension equal to the total period the person would have had an ignition interlock device installed.

††††† With respect to a third or subsequent offenderís license suspension, a person who does not own or lease a motor vehicle or have a motor vehicle the person operates may petition the court that established the forfeiture period, upon proof of owning, leasing, or operating a motor vehicle, to reinstate the personís driving privileges for the duration of the additional one to three year suspension period (not the initial 10 to 20 year period), subject to the person maintaining the installation of an ignition interlock device in that vehicle.†

††††† As above for both first and second offenders, a person who is a third or subsequent offender ordered to install an ignition interlock device could only reinstate a driverís license through the MVC upon showing proof of such installation, and could have the installation period extended by an additional period equal to one-third of the originally designated period in the same manner as previously described for first and second offenders.

††††† For a third or subsequent offense occurring on or near a school property or crossing, the bill would eliminate any enhanced penalties currently available under the law and instead treat such an offense the same as all other third or subsequent offenses.

††††† Refusing a Breath Test

††††† Concerning the offense of refusing to submit to a breath test (section 2 of P.L.1981, c.512 (C.39:4-50.4a)), the bill revises the relevant penalty provisions as follows:

††††† For a first offense, the court would order a 10-day license suspension, during which the person would have to install an ignition interlock device in one motor vehicle owned, leased, or principally operated by the person, whichever the person most often operates, for not less than seven months or more than one year, unless the court was clearly convinced, based on the series of aggravating factors outweighing the mitigating ones as described above for drunk driving offenses, to instead order a license suspension of not less than seven months or more than one year (the seven month to one year suspension would also apply instead of device installation if the person did not own or lease a motor vehicle and there was no motor vehicle the person principally operated). As above with respect to drunk driving offenses, if the person was ordered to install an ignition interlock device, the person could only reinstate the personís driverís license through the MVC upon showing proof of such installation, and could have the installation period extended by an additional period equal to one-third of the originally designated period in the same manner as previously described.

††††† For any first offense of refusing a breath test occurring on or near a school property or crossing, the bill would eliminate any enhanced penalties currently available under the law and instead treat such an offense the same as all other first offenses.

††††† For a second offense, the bill increases the period of license suspension from the current two years to instead a period of not less than two years or more than four years.† The court would order a 10-day license suspension, during which the person would have to install an ignition interlock device in each motor vehicle owned, leased, or operated by the person to be maintained during the two to four year suspension period and remain installed afterward for a period of not less than one year or more than three years, unless there was no such vehicle, in which case the person would receive an initial period of suspension plus an additional period of suspension equal to the total period the person would have had an ignition interlock device installed.†

††††† A person who does not own or lease a motor vehicle or have a motor vehicle the person operates may petition the court that established the forfeiture period, upon proof of owning, leasing, or operating a motor vehicle, to reinstate the personís driving privileges for the duration of the additional one to three year suspension period (not the initial two to four year period), subject to the person maintaining the installation of an ignition interlock device in that vehicle.†

††††† As above with respect to any drunk driving offense, a person who is a second offender ordered to install an ignition interlock device could only reinstate a driverís license through the MVC upon showing proof of such installation, and could have the installation period extended by an additional period equal to one-third of the originally designated period in the same manner as previously described for a drunk driving offense.††††

††††† For a second offense of refusing a breath test occurring on or near a school property or crossing, the bill would eliminate any enhanced penalties currently available under the law and instead treat such an offense the same as all other second offenses.

††††† For a third or subsequent offense, the bill increases the period of license suspension from the current 10 years to instead a period of not less than 10 years or more than 20 years.† The court would order a 10-day license suspension, during which the person would have to install an ignition interlock device in each motor vehicle owned, leased, or operated by the person to be maintained during the 10 to 20 year suspension period, and to remain installed afterwards for a period of not less than one year or more than three years, unless there was no such vehicle, in which case the person would receive an initial period of suspension plus an additional period of suspension equal to the total period the person would have had an ignition interlock device installed.

††††† A third or subsequent offender who does not own or lease a motor vehicle or have a motor vehicle the person operates may petition the court that established the forfeiture period, upon proof of owning, leasing, or operating a motor vehicle, to reinstate the personís driving privileges for the duration of the additional one to three year suspension period (not the initial 10 to 20 year period), subject to the person maintaining the installation of an ignition interlock device in that vehicle.†

††††† As above with respect to any drunk driving offense, a person who is a third or subsequent offender ordered to install an ignition interlock device could only reinstate a driverís license through the MVC upon showing proof of such installation, and could have the installation period extended by an additional period equal to one-third of the originally designated period in the same manner as previously described for a drunk driving offense.

††††† For a third or subsequent offense of refusing a breath test occurring on or near a school property or crossing, the bill would eliminate any enhanced penalties currently available under the law and instead treat such an offense the same as all other third or subsequent offenses.

††††† Ignition Interlock Device Installation Ė License Reinstatement

††††† 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 MVC.† The MVC would thereafter require that the one or more devices be installed before the reinstatement of the personís driverís license, whether after a 10-day suspension period or some longer period as applicable to the specific offense.† The MVC would imprint a notation on the 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.

††††† Ignition Interlock Device Ė Failure to Install, Tampering

††††† Finally, 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 persons offense.† A disorderly persons 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 drunk driving offense under R.S.39:4-50, 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 drunk driver/breath test refusal, 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 drunk driver/breath test refusal; the suspension period for a third or subsequent offender drunk driver/breath test refusal would not be enhanced (remaining not less than 10 years or more than 20 years).

 

 

FISCAL ANALYSIS

 

EXECUTIVE BRANCH

 

††††† None received.

 

 

OFFICE OF LEGISLATIVE SERVICES

 

††††† The Office of Legislative Services (OLS) finds that the cost to the MVC is indeterminate at this time.† 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 that design work, but that would consume MVC staff hours.† Once a location for the 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 Judiciary would incur indeterminate, but nominal expenses, to process these cases, specifically, those related to violations for failure to install, or tampering with, the ignition interlock device.† These costs are expected to be largely mitigated by the fines that may be imposed by the Judiciary for such violations.

††††† The OLS also notes that the MVC must accommodate this 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, but would likely require an eventual change order to be filed with the MATRX vendor.† The MVC has indicated that a change order would be similar in scope to other orders that the MVC has made, and that the 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.†

††††† 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.† 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 ignition interlock 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 $115,000 - $190,000 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.

 

 

Section:

Authorities, Utilities, Transportation and Communications

Analyst:

Patrick Brennan

Associate Fiscal Analyst

Approved:

David J. Rosen

Legislative Budget and Finance Officer

 

 

This fiscal estimate has been prepared pursuant to P.L.1980, c.67 (C.52:13B-6 et seq.).