SHOULD NJ INCREASE ITS DUI/DWI PENALTIES?

Last month, two grandparents were killed in a tragic car accident involving a drunk driver whose license had already been suspended. Frank Cabezas, 23, was driving with a suspended license from a previous DUI conviction when his car collided with the car of the victims.

Following this accident, residents, lawmakers, and media outlets once again are examining New Jersey's drunk driving laws, and asking whether those laws are designed to prevent drunk driving accidents or punish drunk drivers, and how effective the current DUI laws are at doing either.

Roxbury, NJ DUI Attorney Discusses the Argument for Increased DUI Penalties

The group "Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD)" have risen to the forefront of the ongoing debate over New Jersey's drunk driving laws. Recently, they released a statement claiming that over half of all New Jersey drivers who have their license suspended continue to drive their cars despite this restriction. Even though drivers can have their license suspended for a variety of offenses other than a DUI conviction, the fact remains that people who the law says shouldn't be driving are getting behind the wheel anyway.

Additionally, a recent MADD report also ranks New Jersey one of the worst states in the country when it comes to its laws protecting the victims of drunk driving accidents, giving New Jersey two out of five stars in this category.

Part of this ranking, and one of the key components of the ongoing NJ DUI law debate, is that New Jersey is the only state which prosecutes DUI/DWI convictions as traffic offenses, rather than a criminal offense. NJ DUI laws, as they stand, tend to seek monetary penalties against offenders rather than stricter penalties such as actual jail time. While repeat DUI offenders can face a maximum prison sentence of 180 days, many times that sentence is reduced, or part of it is carried out in a rehab facility rather than an actual jail.

While drunk drivers who cause the death of other motorists or pedestrians will face criminal charges of assault by auto, aggravated manslaughter, or vehicular homicide, proponents of stricter DUI laws are urging for criminal penalties to be applied to all DUI offenses.

Morristown, NJ Drunk Driving Attorney Discusses the Opposition to Increased DUI Penalties

While proponents for increased DUI penalties make a number of valid points, there are several contradicting arguments being made as well.

One of the main arguments against increasing NJ DUI penalties is that of the already severe penalties for first time DUI offenders. Many times, drivers with no history of drunk driving are arrested, and prosecuted, for having as little as a single alcoholic beverage. Additionally, those first time DUI penalties are no laughing matter, and include possible license suspension of 3 months to 1 year, 30 days in jail, and thousands of dollars paid in fines, fees, and surcharges. Many DUI defense attorneys are making the argument that increasing DUI penalties would only worsen the penalties faced by relatively innocent drivers.

The other argument made by groups opposed to increased DUI penalties is that, as a traffic offense, any person charged with a DUI/DWI or refusal to submit to a breath test is denied their constitutional right to a jury hearing. Considering the already extreme penalties in place for DUI offenses, increasing those penalties without giving individuals charged with a DUI offense the right to be heard by a jury of their peers would be highly unconstitutional.

Contact Our Morris County DUI/DWI Attorneys Today

Regardless of where you may stand personally on this matter, the fact remains that anytime you are charged with a drunk driving offense, it is critical that you retain experienced legal counsel in order to protect your driving priveledges, freedom, and financial security.

At Smith & Doran, our firm has extensive experience helping clients charged with DUI/DWI offenses of all kinds in towns across Morris County, including Parsippany, Randolph, Roxbury, Madison, and Morristown.

Whether you are facing a first-time DUI offense or have previously been charged with a DUI, our attorneys are prepared to thoroughly investigate your case, review whether or not all of the proper protocols and procedures were followed, and help you to ensure that you receive a fair and legal judgement.

To speak with our firm today in a free and confidential consultation regarding any kind of DUI offense or traffic violation, or how we may be able to help you recover compensation in the case that you were injured by a drunk driver, please contact us online, or through our Morristown, NJ office at 973-532-2661.

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The Law Offices of Smith & Doran, P.C.
60 Washington Street, Suite 302
Morristown, NJ 07960

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