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Drunk-driving penalty changes for first time offenders advanced by NJ Senate panel

On Monday, committee hearings were held where proposed changes were made in how first time drunk driving offenders are punished. Processes like how bail is administered and how the negotiating process for unions are done, also received committee hearings.

Drunk Driving laws

According to a new bill approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee, first-time drunk drivers will be given the option to install an ignition interlock device on their car instead of losing their license. The ignition interlock device will test the drivers breath to decide whether the driver is sober enough to drive or not. If the driver is found to be above the allowed limit, the device will prevent the car from starting. Currently, installation of an ignition interlock device is required after a second or subsequent drunk-driving offense.

The new bill aims to soften the potential impact a person suffers when their drivers license is suspended for a long period of time. Most first time offenders have to face a license suspension, simply because they were unaware of the law, or if they made a careless mistake, which might be too harsh in some cases. According to the current law, first-time offenders have to forfeit their license for at least three months, making it impossible for them to even travel to work.

The new bill would allow a judge to compress the license forfeiture to only 10 days when the ignition interlock device is installed.

MADD totally supports the mandatory installation of ignition interlock devices. A Spokesperson for Mothers Against Drunk Driving cited statistics to show that installation of these devices could reduce the number of fatalities caused as a result of drunk driving by about one third. MADD also gave figures stating that a total of 164 people died in New Jersey in 2012 because of drunk drivers.

News Source: www.NorthJersey.com

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