New Jersey Bill To Strengthen Law Requiring Ignition Interlocks For Convicted Drunk Drivers
A 21-year-old senior at the College of New Jersey was nearly killed by a repeat DUI offender. The motor vehicle of a driver who was driving under the influence of alcohol crashed into the student while he was walking with friends and he was thrown more than 70 feet from the accident spot.
The parents of the student were called and asked to donate his internal organs as survival was not possible. According to the doctors, if the student survived then he would be completely and totally disabled due to severe injuries. After nearly 2 weeks in coma, he woke up with catastrophic orthopedic injuries that made it impossible for him to ever walk again in his life. If ignition interlocks existed, then it would never have happened.
The student was admitted for 6 months in a hospital and it that time period, he underwent 15 surgeries and intense rehabilitation to repair crushed legs and severe traumatic brain injuries that he suffered due to the accident. He recovered fully.
146 individuals died in the year 2013 on New Jersey roadways by drivers who were driving after consuming alcohol. And while New Jersey has come a long way since 1982, when 448 individuals died as a result of this offense which can be stopped, more efforts must be done to ensure that no family bears the devastating results of drunk driving.
New Jersey has a great chance to stop drunk driving and save lives of individuals who drive with drunk drivers. State Sens. Nicholas Scutari and Jim Whelan and Assemblywoman Linda Stender have proposed a legislation that would make convicted drunk drivers prove their sobriety before driving a motor vehicle, should they choose to drive after a DWI conviction.
The legislation, S 385/A 1368, requires installation of an ignition interlock device in motor vehicles of repeat DUI offenders that will not permit a vehicle to start unless a driver first gives a breath sample by blowing into the device to show that they are not under the influence of alcohol. Deaths caused by drunk driving decreased in the States that have enacted similar legislation and the decrease is up to 45 percent. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, installation of interlocks decrease repeat offenses by 67 percent.
A large number of traffic safety advocacy groups support MADD’s struggle to require all-offender Ignition Interlock Device legislation. In the year 2012 and month of December, AAA and the National Transportation Safety Board came out in support of requiring these devices for all convicted drunk drivers who choose to get behind the wheel after drinking alcohol again and again.
According to the practicing lawyer, Steven Benvenisti, he has never seen legislation with such a direct correlation between a law’s enactment and lives being saved.
New Jersey already requires ignition interlock devices for all repeat and first-time convicted DUI drivers with a BAC level of .15 percent or more. S 385/A 1368 will strengthen New Jersey’s current ignition interlock law by allowing a 1st time convicted drunk driver with a BAC of .08 percent to .14 percent to use an ignition interlock for a period of time that is 3 to 12 months, unless a judge says that aggravating factors show that driver’s license suspension is a more appropriate sentence. If the offender tries to drive drunk during the last one-third of the interlock use, the time for which they have to use the interlock will be extended.
Ignition interlocks teach sober driving behavior while protecting people living in New Jersey from repeat drunk driving which driver’s license suspension alone cannot accomplish.
Research showed that 50 to 75 percent of convicted drunk drivers will continue to drive even with a suspended license. Other than that, studies also show that first-time convicted drunk drivers have driven drunk an average of 80 times before their first DUI conviction.
According to MADD, all-offender ignition interlock legislation and strong enforcement are the best tools to stop drunk driving and to save lives. The cost to offenders is almost $2.50 per day but assistance is available for those who can’t afford to pay for the devices.
Steven Benvenisti told that he continues to share his story with other individuals around him in hopes of eliminating drunk driving. He also said that he cannot be nearly as powerful as New Jersey lawmakers who have before them life-saving legislation that will stop drunk drivers from drinking alcohol before driving a motor vehicle. He added, “Ignition interlocks teach sober driving behavior while protecting New Jersey residents from repeat drunk driving”.
News Source: www.NJ.com