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Penalties for first-time DUI conviction could become more severe

Most individuals in New Jersey will never face charges of murder, robbery or similar criminal charges that could result in serious time behind bars. However, a criminal charge that can result in time behind bars and that most individuals are susceptible to is drunk driving charges. Driving under the influence in New Jersey is a crime with serious penalties that can happen to anyone. Unfortunately, one glass of wine too many can mean thousands of dollars in fines and other consequences.

Even a first DUI offense is serious. Beyond the fines and huge insurance increase, an individual can lose their license. Additionally, there are currently 17 states that mandate the installation of an ignition interlock device for even first-time offenders. While New Jersey is not one of these states, we along with everyone else in the country could soon see first-time convicted drunk drivers ordered to install an ignition interlock device.

This is because a federal board, the National Transportation Safety Board, requested this week that all 50 states mandate this penalty for all convicted drunk drivers. This means that it could be even more critical for individuals to defend against drunk driving charges in New Jersey.

What exactly are the ramifications of installing an ignition interlock device? In order for the car to start, the individual must submit a breath sample. However, instead of needing to be under the legal limit of .08 percent blood-alcohol, the sample will need to be between .02-.04 percent. Further, intermitted samples would also need to be submitted while driving.

Particularly in light of the increase in severity of penalties, it is not an understatement to say that defending against such charges is critical.

Source: New Jersey Herald, "NTSB: Use ignition locks for all drunken drivers," Joan Lowy, Dec. 11, 2012

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