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February 05, 2015

N.J. Senate considers bill to reduce penalty for drunken driving

The New Jersey State Senate is considering a bill Thursday that would allow first-time drunken driving offenders to be back on the road sooner, reports. 

Instead of lengthy license suspensions, possible jail time and insurance surcharges, offenders would be required to install interlock devices that would measure their blood alcohol content before the car can be turned on. The engine would not start for a reading above 0.05 percent.

If approved by the Senate and signed by Gov. Chris Christie, the bill would suspend the licenses of first-time offenders with blood alcohol concentration between the legal limit of 0.08 and 0.10 percent for just 10 days. 

Currently, those drivers would have their licenses suspended for three months. Instead, the bill would require them to install the interlock device for three months.

Drivers with a concentration between 0.10 and 0.15 percent would still receive the 10-day license suspension, but the interlock would need to be installed for seven months to a year, according to the bill.

Repeat offenders and those with high blood alcohol levels would face harsher penalties if the bill is passed.

Mothers Against Drunk Drivers supports the effort. The organization reports that four states – Oregon, Arizona, Louisiana and New Mexico – have all seen drunken driving deaths drop by more than 30 percent after all-offender interlock laws were passed. 

Twenty-four states require interlocks for all convicted offenders.

The bill passed in the Assembly, 46-15, in June 2014.

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