TRENTON A state legislative panel on Monday advanced a bill that would require all individuals convicted of drunken driving to equip their vehicle with a device that would prevent it from being started if they were drunk.

Current law only requires repeat offenders and first-time offenders with blood alcohol levels nearly twice the legal limit to install ignition interlock devices in their cars.

The legislation, which now heads to the Assembly floor, would eliminate automatic license suspensions. Repeat offenders could obtain a restricted-use license. The devices would have to remain installed for varying periods of time, depending on the person's blood alcohol content and number of offenses.

Supporters of the law, including Mothers Against Drunk Driving, say suspensions have not been effective and that the devices have substantially decreased repeat offenses.

Others, including Dan Phillips of the Administrative Office of the Courts, supported the general idea but opposed the specific version of the bill, saying it did not go far enough and should require the devices to be installed in every car an offender might use.

The bill requires the device to be installed only in the car the offenders "principally operate."

The Assembly Judiciary Committee passed the bill, 7-0, but said it would require more tinkering.

- Andrew Seidman