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Proposed New Jersey bills toughen penalties for drunk driving

State laws are implemented to protect the general public, while also defining the process offenders will go through. Changes in policies could mean harsher penalties, especially in New Jersey where they are considering the laws surrounding drunk driving and the resulting criminal and civil liabilities.

Two bills recently introduced in the New Jersey legislature stiffen penalties for drunk and drugged driving. One bill would require that anybody in a fatal alcohol-related accident provide blood samples. Current New Jersey law only allows blood samples to be drawn from a motorist after probable cause is established.

The proposed law would deem drivers to automatically have given consent to a blood sample after the accident. Moreover, it would do away with the probable cause requirement, which sponsors state would allow police to take more direct action in a fatal DUI crash. Under the bill, anyone who refuses a blood test is treated to the same penalty as one who refuses a Breathalyzer.

The second bill imposes harsher penalties on repeat DUI offenders, increasing sentences up to 18 months in jail and $10,000 fines. In addition, there would be an automatic license suspension. In these cases, judges could order bail of up to $10,000.

The two proposed bills are part of government and law enforcement's efforts to combat the prevalence of drunk driving. This effort is needed, because drunk driving accidents are a major threat to life and to property. These accidents can cause injury and death for both the drunk driver and his or her victims. Furthermore, these accidents can cost thousands in property damage, such as damage to the vehicle itself or to nearby public and private property.

In addition, such accidents can be very costly to those involved in the form of medical bills, lost wages, and any expenses related to any permanent or temporary disability incurred. Any injuries suffered will not only take away from the quality of life for those involved, but will also eat up valuable financial resources.

Anyone impacted by a drunk driving accident has the legal right to seek a just and fair compensation through a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant. The victims may obtain monetary damages from the defendant, thereby being compensated for their physical injuries and their emotional trauma. In this way, the defendant is also held accountable for his or her negligent conduct. Anyone injured by an alcohol-related accident is entitled to seek a just and fair restitution.

Source: Land Line Magazine, "New Jersey bills target drugged, drunken driving," Keith Goble, Sep. 26, 2013

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