Repeat drunken driving offenders in New Jersey could soon face harsher penalties for their actions.
New Jersey law now limits punishment for affected offenders to a traffic offense. Bail typically is set at $2,500.
The traffic offense designation allows drivers charged with drunken driving to continue to drive while awaiting their court date.
The Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee voted unanimously to end that practice. Instead, the bill would boost punishment for a person convicted of driving under the influence two times or more within 60 days to a fourth-degree crime. Specifically, offenders would face up to 18 months in prison and/or up to $10,000 fines.
License suspensions would also result for repeat offenders. In addition, judges could impose bail of up to $10,000.
The bill follows a case in Vineland, NJ, where a man was arrested for drunken driving five times in five weeks while awaiting a court date for his initial infraction.
Assemblyman John Burzichelli, D-Gloucester/Salem/Cumberland, said the rule change would help address a problem that is unacceptable.
“Everyone can make a mistake, but when it’s done repeatedly, especially in a relatively close time frame, it’s clear that the person has a problem and should be dealt with quickly both for their own sake and the safety of others,” Burzichelli said in a statement.
The bill – A3057 – now moves to the Assembly floor. If approved there, it would head to the Senate where a similar measure – S2028 – awaits consideration in committee.
To view other legislative activities of interest for New Jersey, click here.
Editor’s Note: Please share your thoughts with us about the story topic. Comments may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.