NEW JERSEY DWI LAW CHANGE PROPOSAL
As New Jersey citizens prepare to celebrate the Holidays, our state Senators are preparing to vote on a proposed change in our drunk driving laws. Under the legislation — approved this summer in the Assembly by a 46-15 vote — first-time N.J. D.W.I. offenders would be required to install locks on their ignition systems that require a Breathalyzer-like test before their vehicle starts. These interlocking devices are currently in use, but only for repeat offenders or for individuals found guilty of driving with a BAC of .15 or greater.
Under current law, first-time D.W.I. offenders in New Jersey face a license suspension of three to 12 months, depending on how high their blood alcohol level is above the .08 percent legal limit. Each offender must also take part in a mandatory alcohol awareness class and pay the requisite fines and surcharges.
Under the proposed legislation, first offenders would be allowed to keep their licenses, but would have to rent the ignition lock and have it reviewed monthly to see if they attempted to start their vehicle while legally drunk. This proposal law protects citizens from the dangers of drunk-driving while allowing first time offenders to continue working and earning a living.
“An ignition interlock teaches a convicted drunk driver to drive sober, a suspended license does not,” says Frank Harris, state legislative affairs manager for Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
“States that have passed laws like this have seen significant reductions in drunk-driver fatalities,” says Harris. “It allows [drivers] to continue to go to work, to continue to provide for their family, but at the same time protecting the public as they are not driving drunk.”
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