A bill currently making its way through the Assembly is designed to make New Jersey roads safer. The bill is designed to subject repeat drunk driving offenders to steeper penalties. The bill will increase punishment for persons convicted of DUI more than once in a 60 day period. The bill would increase a DUI charge to a fourth-degree crime. The punishment can include a $10,000 fine, up to 18 months in prison, a suspended license and require bail up to $10,000. Currently courts cannot impose a bail amount more than $2,500 for a fourth-degree crime.
The bill was prompted by an accident which involved a driver who had recently been arrested on his fifth DUI charge in a five week period. He allegedly endangered the lives of children when he swerved around a stopped school bus, ran into a stop sign and a car, and then fled the scene. One Assemblyman noted that anyone can make a mistake, but repeat offenders in a short period of time must be dealt with more quickly to protect the public.
If the steeper penalties become law, officers may become more aggressive in looking for drunk drivers. But even one Assemblyman noted that there are circumstances that could lead to a false charge of drunk driving. It is important to remember that being charged with a DUI does not mean you are guilty of the crime or will receive an automatic conviction. The criteria used by police are not an exact science and DUI charges can be successfully defended. That is one reason it is so important for people to contact a DUI defense attorney immediately after being charged with a DUI.
Source: NorthJersey.com, "NJ lawmakers approve steeper repeat DUI penalties," Andrew Duffelmeyer, June 7, 2012