Following last month’s tragic deaths of two grandparents at the hands of a drunk driver, the debate over New Jersey’s drunk driving laws has resurfaced among lawmakers, residents, and the media alike.
In the drunk driving accident in question, Frank Cabezas, 23, who had already had his license suspended for a previous DUI/DWI arrest, was once again driving while intoxicated when he crashed his car into the car of the victims.
The fact that the drunk driver was not only driving on a suspended license for a prior DUI, but also driving drunk has once again ignited the debate over whether New Jersey’s drunk driving laws are designed to punish offenders or protect other drivers from drunk driving accidents, and how effective our DUI/DWI laws are at doing either of those things.
Red Bank, NJ DUI/DWI Attorneys Discuss the Case for Increased DUI Penalties
On one side of the debate, the organization known as the “Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD)” has presented several compelling points and arguments for the case that the penalties for drunk driving in New Jersey need to be increased.
One of their reports states that over half of the drivers in New Jersey who have their license suspended continue to drive despite this sanction. Of course, drivers can have their license suspended for a variety of reasons beyond a DUI/DWI arrest, and other factors such as the availability of public transportation also play a role, but the fact remains that right now, NJ drivers whom the law deems should not be driving are continuing to do so regardless.
Beyond this alarming report, MADD also stated that New Jersey is one of the worst states in the nation when it comes to its laws protecting the victims of drunk driving accidents, giving the state a two out of five star rating. Part of this belief is the fact that New Jersey is one of the only states in the country which considers drunk driving offenses to be motor vehicle violations, rather than criminal offenses.
As a traffic violation, a DUI/DWI conviction can result in a brief 180 period in jail, often that sentence is reduced, and at least part of it is served in a rehabilitation facility rather than a prison. Instead, New Jersey relies much more heavily on monetary fines when it comes to punishing drunk drivers, but the effectiveness of this approach is coming under heavy fire, as many wonder whether or not New Jersey should transition to penalizing DUI/DWI offenses as criminal offenses rather than simply just motor vehicle violations.
Middletown, NJ Drunk Driving Lawyers Discuss the Case of the Opposition
On the other side of the current debate regarding New Jersey’s drunk driving laws, many DUI/DWI lawyers argue that if the state wants to increase the penalties associated with any kind of drunk driving offense they need to do so as criminal offenses, rather than increasing the already severe drunk driving penalties while keeping their traffic violation status.
This is due to the fact that, as a motor vehicle violation, anyone charged with a DUI/DWI or refusal to submit to a breath test is denied their constitutional right to a trial by jury (known as due process). Instead, their innocence or guilt, and potential punishment, is left entirely up to a single judge. For this reason, many DUI/DWI lawyers believe that in order for there to be any increase in the severity of drunk driving conviction penalties, drivers arrested for a DUI/DWI offense need to be afforded a trial, or we risk further violating their constitutional rights.
In addition to this argument, there is also the belief among many that first-time DUI/DWI offenses are already extremely high, and further increasing those penalties would only punish relatively innocent offenders. It is not uncommon for an individual with no history of drunk driving or alcohol abuse to be arrested after only consuming a single alcoholic beverage, and those same first-time DUI offenders can face license suspensions of 3 months to 1 year, 30 days in jail, and thousands of dollars in fines and surcharges.
Monmouth County NJ Drunk Driving Attorneys
Regardless of where you stand on this particular issue, the fact of the matter is that anytime you are arrested for drunk driving, or are injured by another drunk driver, it is extremely important that you retain experienced legal counsel to help you defend your rights, and protect your legal and financial future moving forward.
At The Law Office of Chamlin, Rosen, Ulliano & Witherington, our attorneys have extensive experienced handling all manner of DUI/DWI charges and securing compensation for the victims of drunk driving accidents in towns across Monmouth County, including Red Bank, Middletown, Freehold, Wall, Howell, and West Long Branch.
Over the last 50 years of service to our clients, we have secured a number of landmark and precedent-setting decisions and verdicts, and carefully fostered a reputation for success among legislators, businesses, and families alike. Whether you are in need of representation in a personal injury claim, criminal defense, or a municipal court summons, our firm is prepared to provide you with exactly this same type of successful and effective legal counsel, and help you resolve your matter in a way which accurately takes into account your unique situation, needs, and concerns.
To speak with our legal team today in a free and confidential consultation regarding a DUI/DWI arrest, refusal to submit to a breath test, or a drunk driving accident, please contact us online, or through our West Long Branch office at (732) 440-3950.