Opinion: NJ About to Go Soft on Drunk Driving
Sitting on Gov. Murphy's desk is a bill that was just passed which would handle drinking and driving by ordering interlock devices added to an offender's car ignition instead of license suspensions.
The problem? Instead of rather than in addition to.
Ignition interlocks are nothing new. Under Ricci's law first offenders with a blood alcohol level of .15 or greater can have one of these ordered by a judge now. The difference will be a huge expansion of these devices that will replace the punishment of loss of license.
For a driver caught between .08 and .10 it will be an interlock device for three months. Hell, the suspension alone for drunk driving should be longer than that, but here there won't be one. A driver caught between above .10 to .15 will get an ignition device for seven to twelve months. Again, not long enough and no meaningful suspension. Only a driver with a BAC above .15 will get a license suspension of four to six months along with the interlock device during suspension and continuing for nine to fifteen months afterwards.
Sure MADD touts great success numbers for these IIDs, such as them stopping 13,500 drivers from driving drunk last year. When in reality we don't know if they simply drove a different car. All you can really say is these device stopped 13,500 drivers from driving drunk in those particular cars.
Even with that reality check, it's not that I'm against ignition interlock devices. It's a fine idea. It's just that they should be IN ADDITION TO not in place of license suspensions.
State Sen. Nick Scutari was quoted as saying, “By requiring this instead of a license suspension, first-time offenders can work towards moving on and learning from their mistake. A loss of a license can ruin lives professionally and personally."
Yes, that's the power of a license suspension. You WANT that kind of problem as a disincentive to drunk driving, don't you? You WANT the fear of the loss of license, the fear of not being about to get to work, get your kids to school and doctor appointments, go grocery shopping, taking care of your family. You put other families at great risk by drinking and driving, so why are we sympathetic to your problems taking care of your family after your selfish and illegal actions?
I hope this gets shot down by Gov. Murphy, but I'm sure this will be the new law of the land. All he will have done is sign into law a policy of going easier on drunk drivers.