There has been a national push to make DUI penalties more strict. At the head of the push is Mothers Against Drunk Driving. The vice chair of the MAAD national board was in new jersey last month to thank legislators for considering the new bill. The bill which we will discuss later, in further detail, will make the penalties harsher for first-time DUI offenders. Drinking and driving is dangerous, and groups everywhere are aiming to do as much as they can to curb the problem. Many states have tough penalties when it comes to multiple offenders. However, states have lax penalties when it comes to first-time DUI offenders.
The Changes to the Law
The main change to the law is adding the requirement of an ignition interlock device for first-time DUI offenders. An ignition interlock device is a small portable breathalyzer system. This system requires you to submit a breath sample before allowing you to start your car. You also have to breathe into the machine periodically while driving. The goal is to keep first-time DUI offenders from repeating their mistakes. Many studies say that there is proof that these types of devices reduce the risk of repeat offenses.
The current law leaves the requirement of an ignition interlock device up to the judge. The new bill will make the system mandatory for a period of three to eighteen months depending on the BAC of the defendant.
In 2015 a similar bill made it through the New Jersey state government and onto Governer Chris Christie’s desk. However, he vetoed the bill at that time. His concern was the reduction in the length of license suspension for first-time offenders. The bill called for a reduction from three months to ten days. Gov. Christie used this as an incentive to veto the bill.
State legislatures fought to bring the big back to life after making some changes. The new bill is on its way to the New Jersey Full Assembly for a vote.
Advocates of New Legislation
Along with MAAD, AAA has come out in support of the new bill. AAA Northeast’s director of government and public affairs said that “Drunk driving is clearly a dangerous behavior and the best way to keep drunk drivers off our roads is to change their behavior and interlock systems do that.” Proponents claim that this new law will help change a first-time DUI offenders behavior. They say that an IID is a constant reminder of the dangers of driving drunk.
Governor Christie has taken a hard stance against substance and alcohol abuse. He has been an advocate for reforms to the state’s current prosecution of criminal cases stemming from alcohol and drug abuse. Because of this fact, many people think that the Governor will have no choice but to sign the bill into law this time.
Opponents of New Legislation
The biggest knock on the new law is that it treats someone who may have simply made a poor decision as a bad person. Many people who face DUI charges are not terrible human beings that have no concern for the lives of those around them. In fact, many first-time DUI offenders just made a bad mistake that they regret. Alcohol lowers the brain’s capacity to make sound decisions. Punishing people harshly for a one time mistake may be a bit too much.
The current law already includes mandatory IID installation for repeat offender’s, and many critics think that is enough. The current penalties for a DUI are severe. License suspension. fines, increases in car insurance rates, and alcohol education classes are all tools that the courts currently have at their disposal for the first DUI conviction. The costs are astronomical when you factor in everything including the right New Jersey DUI defense attorney.
First-Time DUI Offenders
If you are currently dealing with a first-time DUI offense, you are going to want to seek proper legal advice. The current penalties for a DUI in New Jersey are strict, and you want to have an attorney that knows the best way to defend you.
The current penalties for a first-time DUI offense include:
- A license suspension for three to twelve months, depending on the amount of alcohol in your system as well as other factors.
- Fines ranging from $750 to $1,000.
- Up to 30 days in jail.
- Up to 48 hours of classes at the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center.
- A DMV surcharge of $1,000 per year for three years.
- One penalty most people do not think about is an increase in your car insurance rates. Your car insurance premiums could go up as much as five times their current amount.
As you can see the penalties are not only strict but they are also costly. Schedule a consultation with Douglas Herring today and find out the best way to move forward with your case.