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Bill to toughen drunk driving penalties approved by Assembly Panel

On Monday, a bill was approved by an Assembly panel that was proposed by Assembly Democrats Linda Stender (D-Middlesex, Somerset, Union) and Ralph R. Caputo (D-Essex) to make the penalties for driving while under the influence of alcohol strict in New Jersey.

According to Stender, “Every day, almost 30 people in the United States die in motor vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver. Innocent people are dying because of the irresponsible choices of others. Under this bill, if you get caught drinking and driving, you face having to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle, having your driving privileges restricted or losing them all together”.

The bill (A3835) altered the penalties for various DUI offenses in which making the installation of an ignition interlock device in the vehicles of drunk drivers mandatory, restricting and revoking driving privileges are included.

An ignition interlock device acts like a breathalyzer on the dashboard. Prior to starting a motor vehicle, the driver has to give a breath sample to the device and if the result is above than the pre-programmed level, then the device doesn’t allow the vehicle to start.

Caputo said, “In 2010, alcohol-impaired driving crashes accounted for nearly one-third of all traffic-related deaths in the United States. This bill helps send a stern message to drivers who fail to see the danger they put themselves and others when they drink and drive. If you choose to be irresponsible by drinking and driving, then you will have your driving privileges limited or have to install the equivalent of a breathalyzer in your car to do the reasoning for you”.

According to the bill, if any person commits the offense of DUI or refuses to give a breath sample for an intoxication test, the individual will be required to install an ignition interlock device in his/her vehicle. The court will order to suspend the driver’s license of a DUI offender for a period of ten days during which the person will have to install the device in the vehicle if the device is not installed. If the individual commits the DUI offense for the 2nd time then during this same time period of ten days, he/she would be required to obtain a restricted use driver’s license with various court-ordered driving restrictions, issued by the Chief Administrator of the Motor Vehicle Commission. If the individual does not have his/her own motor vehicle then the court would instead order the person to lose his right to drive a motor vehicle over the state’s highways. If the individual commits a 3rd DUI offense, the penalty is suspension of their driving license for ten years.

An individual would be guilty of a disorderly person’s offense if he/she fails to install an ignition interlock device as ordered by a court or if he/she drives a device-equipped vehicle by giving a breath sample of any other individual. The penalty for disorderly person’s offense is imprisonment of up to 6 months and the offender has to pay a fine of up to $1,000. Other than that, the court would suspend the individual’s driver’s license.

News Source: www.AssemblyDems.com

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