Submitted by New Jersey DWI Attorney, Jeffrey Hark.
The state Senate passed legislation on Thursday (S-2427) that would require drunk drivers to install an ignition interlock device into their vehicle.
The bill passed the Senate with a vote of 34 to 2, and is now sent to the Assembly Judiciary Committee.
“This bill attempts to make the roads safer but also gives the opportunity to the offender to alter their behavior,” said Nicholas P. Scutari (D-220), the main bill’s main sponsor.
Instead of their license getting suspended, drunk drivers would instead get the interlock installed for a period of three-to-twelve months.
Interlock devices prevent automobile operation for drivers with a blood alcohol concentration above a specific level.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, interlocking devices caused a decrease in re-arrest rates for impaired driving.
“The large majority of the senate feel this is the right thing to do for a motor republic,” Scutari said.
Sen. Jeff Van Drew (D-1), was one of the two dissenters for the bill.
“I think there’s some good in the bill and I think they should use an interlock system one or two times,” Van Drew conceited.
However, in Van Drew’s opinion, the legislation still needs work to keep more serious repeat offenders from continuing impaired driving by putting them into rehabilitation centers.
He is concerned that drivers with a history of drunk driving are still able to use another person’s car that does not have an ignition interlock device installed.
Van Drew previously supported Michael’s Law, created by his fellow First District legislature Assemblyman Nelson Albano, which penalizes repeat drunk drivers.
Michael’s Law was created in memory of Albano’s son, who was killed in December 2001 by a repeat drunk driver.
“They have got to be gotten off the road and out of mainstream society,” Van Drew said.
In a letter to the New Jersey Senate by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), a national non-profit organization, they stated they were in favor of the legislation.
The letter is signed by Steven Benvenisti, a volunteer and national board member for MADD. Benvenisti is also a personal injury attorney and a survivor of a pedestrian crash caused by a repeat drunk driving offender, according to the letter.
“License suspension is no longer a practical way to deal with drunk drivers,” the letter states. “Fortunately, ignition interlocks allow a convicted drunk driver to continue driving, but in a way that will protect families and motorists.”
The letter goes on to state that similar legislation in New Mexico, Arizona, Louisiana and Oregon has decreased drunk driving fatalities.
If the state Assembly passes the legislation, New Jersey will join 18 other states with similar interlock ignition laws.
“Interlocks are proven to save lives and protect the public while giving (driving under the influence) offenders the opportunity to continue driving,” the letter states. “MADD urges you to cast a yes vote on S-2427.”
The state Assembly is currently in recess for the summer and a schedule for the fall is not yet posted by the legislature.
Originally published by By here.