January 10, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/
-- New Jersey Bill Seeks to Toughen Penalties for DUI with a Minor Passenger
As it is nationwide, driving while under the influence of alcohol in New Jersey is a serious problem. In addition to his or her own life, an impaired driver can put other lives at risk--sometimes innocent children who are passengers in the car. A recently introduced New Jersey bill aims to address this problem by increasing the penalties for adults who drive drunk with children in the car.
The bill is sponsored by Charles Mainor, the Assembly Law and Public Safety Chairman. Under existing New Jersey law, a parent or guardian who is convicted of drunk driving with a minor as a passenger in the vehicle is guilty of a disorderly persons offense. Such an offense carries a sentence of imprisonment for up to six months, a fine of up to $1,000 or both.
The aim of Mainor's proposed bill is to protect children by toughening the penalties for driving drunk with minor passengers. Mainor told the media, "A disorderly persons offense is not enough for driving drunk with a minor. We need to send a stronger message that we find such dangerous behavior completely unacceptable."
Provisions of Bill
The proposed bill would still punish a parent convicted of a DUI with a minor passenger--defined by the bill as a person under the age of 18--as a disorderly persons offense. However, under the new bill, this lesser punishment would only apply if the minor does not suffer bodily injury because of the DUI (e.g. being involved in a car accident caused by an impaired adult driver).
If the minor passenger suffers bodily injury because of the DUI, however, under the new bill, the adult who is driving would be guilty of a fourth degree crime. The bill defines "bodily injury" as "physical pain, illness or any impairment of physical condition." In New Jersey, fourth degree crimes are punishable by imprisonment of up to 18 months, a fine of up to $10,000 or both.
The penalties get more severe if the minor passenger suffers "serious bodily injury"--defined as injury creating a substantial risk of death, causing serious permanent disfigurement or resulting in loss or impairment of a bodily member or organ--as a result of the DUI. In such instances, the adult driver would face a third degree crime, which carries a term of imprisonment between three and five years, a fine of up to $15,000 or both.
Consult an Attorney
If passed, the enhanced penalties would be in addition to the regular penalties for DUI (i.e. driving without a minor passenger). DUI offenses are serious and can carry heavy penalties such as heavy fines, license suspensions, jail time and community service.
Since the penalties are serious, if you have been arrested for DUI, it is important to present a strong defense. Contact an experienced criminal law attorney, who can assist you in preparing an effective defense, ensure your rights are protected and work to obtain the best possible outcome.
Article provided by Cassidy Law Firm
Visit us at http://www.thecassidylawfirm.com/---
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