Changes Expected In New Jersey’s Drunken Driving Law
A legislation has been passed by a New Jersey Senate by which the state’s drunken driving law is altered and it eased the penalties for 1st time offenders but introduced technology to stop intoxicated drivers from driving.
Any individual convicted of DWI automatically loses their driver’s license for a minimum time period of 3 months and sometimes longer than 3 months.
On Thursday, the legislation approved would alter that to 10 days for 1st time offenders and they would have to get an ignition interlocking device installed in their motor vehicle that measures BAC level content and does not permit the vehicle to start if the driver is under the influence of an intoxicant.
According to Sen. Nick Scutari (D-Linden), who sponsored the bill, current drunken driving laws have not been revisited in many, many years. Scutari stated, “This is a recognition that we need to ensure the safety of the public in a more efficient manner, and also give an opportunity to some people that are only first offenders, that may have had no aggravating factors, to perhaps maintain their license with an ignition interlock device in their car”.
He also said that in many cases, maintaining a driver’s license permits the individual to keep their job. He told that if an individual convicted of DWI attempts to get behind the wheel of someone else’s motor vehicle to get around using an interlock device, there are harsh criminal penalties.
He said that having the device would be voluntary and if any individual agrees to get it, “then they’ll pay for the device, and it’s approximately $100 a month for the lease of the equipment. They don’t buy it; they lease it for the period of time in which the court sentences them to have it in their vehicle. We have too many people driving around who have a record of driving while intoxicated who are continuing to do that. We want to change that behavior. We want to make it clear that we don’t want people to drive drunk, but we also want to safeguard the public”.
Installation of interlock devices is to make people think before getting behind the wheel after consuming alcohol.
National vice chairman of the board of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Steven Benvenisti, said MADD is in favor of the bill. “When this type of legislation has become law in other states, drunk driving fatalities in those states are reduced by up to 45 percent which is absolutely incredible”.
He added that statistics showed that half of all drivers who have their licenses suspended due to a driving while intoxicated conviction keep driving anyway but in states where interlock laws have been passed, the percentage of individuals taken into custody for the offense have decreased by 67%.
An additional goal is to see that lives continue to be saved on the roads. “Ideally, there would be zero drunk driving fatalities but until we get to that point, the closest thing to the best answer is imposing ignition interlock devices into the vehicles of people who have been convicted of drunk driving”.
168 individuals died in drunken driving accidents and many others injured due to DWI in New Jersey in the year 2012.
Some states have DWI penalties and less serious Driving Under the Influence (DUI) penalties as well, but New Jersey only has the DWI infraction.
The bill which passed the full Assembly in 2014 now goes to Gov. Chris Christie’s desk for consideration.
News Source: NJ1015