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Legislatures seek to toughen state DUI laws

When a motorist is arrested for drunken driving in New Jersey they face a variety of potential penalties. In the case of a first offense motorists are subject to potential penalties including jail time, probation, license suspension, fines and community service. In addition, if a motorist is convicted for driving with a BAC of 0.15 or higher, they are also required to obtain an ignition interlock device for the duration of their license suspension, as well as an additional 6 months to a year following reinstatement.

The current laws in New Jersey concerning DUI charges and the use of ignition interlock devices were put into effect in 2010. For those unfamiliar with the device, an ignition interlock device requires motorists to provide a breath sample before they can start the engine on their vehicle. Today, all 50 states in the U.S. have laws requiring such devices, however, these laws vary dramatically. Nevertheless, states are starting to get tougher with their use of these devices throughout the country, including New Jersey.

In fact, last session a state senator proposed a bill to introduce tougher penalties for drunk drivers, which would include broadening the use of ignition interlock devices. While last year's bill only made it partway through the state legislature, this year 4 bills have been introduced to toughen penalties for DUI offenders. Two of the proposed bills would introduce multiple changes to current DUI laws, including the required use of ignition interlock devices for anyone convicted of a DWI charge with a BAC of 0.08 or higher.

The penalties for drinking and driving in New Jersey are not something to be taken lightly. While penalties for a first time offense are bad enough, repeat offenders with a second or third offense face even tougher consequences from increased fines to longer license suspension, longer jail terms and longer durations for using an ignition interlock device. With so much to lose for a DUI arrest, it may be worth discussing your case with an experienced and qualified New Jersey criminal defense attorney.

Source: NJ.com, "Quigley: Seeking tougher vehicle interlock laws for DWI convictions," Joan Quigley, Feb. 18, 2014

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