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Bill requires blood samples in fatal alcohol-related accidents

The New Jersey Assembly is considering a new bill that would require drivers involved in a fatal motor vehicle accident to give a blood sample. If passed, police will be able to do away with establishing probable cause before asking a driver for a blood test.

The bill, dubbed "Michelle's Law," after 17-year-old Michelle Sous, who was struck by a car while crossing the street. At the time of the Sous accident, the driver who struck the girl was neither tested for drugs nor alcohol. According to Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly, the legislation would allow officers to take immediate action in an alcohol-related accident that results in a fatality. Assemblyman Gordon Johnson also stated that the loss of life in an auto accident is reason enough to investigate the accident in detail. If approved, drivers who do not consent to a blood test will face similar penalties as a person who declines a breath test.

The legislation was one of two bills presented before the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee. The other bill sought to protect people who send text messages from any liability, placing the blame solely on the shoulders of a texting driver in the event of a crash.

Drunk driving accidents often result in serious injuries or fatalities. Frequently, it is the other innocent motorists on the receiving end of more serious injuries or fatalities, not the drunk driver. This can be avoided if a driver refrains from getting behind the wheel when he or she has had a considerable amount to drink. A person could also ask a friend or family member to serve as a designated driver, or call a taxi before getting behind the wheel while intoxicated.

A driver may be held liable if driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In such incidents, an injured Mt. Laurel resident may seek compensation for any injuries or damages resulting from the accident.

Source: Landlinemag.com, "New Jersey Bills Target Impaired, Distracted Driving," Keith Goble, Nov. 25. 2013

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