Alcohol and substance abuse by one parent are always concerning to the other parent, but when those parents are separated or divorced, there is an increased level of anxiety. A new law, which took effect on December 1, 2019, can help ease the concerns of a parent whose former partner has been convicted of Driving While Intoxicated in New Jersey.

Under the new law, anyone who is convicted of DWI will have to have an ignition locking device installed on their vehicle. An ignition locking devices acts as a breathalyzer test, with the would-be driver required to blow into a tube to provide a blood-alcohol reading. The car will not start if the blood alcohol level registers above .05 percent, which is slightly below the legal limit of .08. After the car begins moving, the technology periodically requires the driver to blow into the tube to insure it is actually testing the driver of the car.

The law requires first time offenders with a blood alcohol limit of 0.08 percent to 0.10 percent to have an interlock device installed in their vehicle for three months. An offender with a BAC above 0.10 percent to 0.15 percent would be required to have a device installed for seven to twelve months.

This law is a step forward for easing the concerns of a parents whose child will be with a parent who has been convicted of DWI. Moreover, it is a tool to make sure that a parent’s relationship with his or her child is not negatively impacted as a result of something that may not be indicative of that person’s ability to be a regular and positive presence in a child’s life.

To be sure, critics will suggest that there will be individuals who will be able to create a “work around” to get behind the wheel, or who will borrow or rent a vehicle. That may be true, but for many instances of custody disputes where alcohol is involved, this may be a step in making sure that a child’s best interests are preserved.