Harsher Penalties for DUI in New Jersey

New legislation was sponsored by Charles Mainor, the Assembly Law and Public Safety Chairman, to increase penalties for drunk driving with a minor in the motor vehicle. Mainor (D-Hudson) said, “Driving drunk is irresponsible in any circumstance, but it’s even more offensive to do so with a child in the vehicle.”A parent or guardian convicted of drunk driving with a minor in the vehicle would be charged with a disorderly persons offense under current law. “A disorderly persons offense is not enough for driving drunk with a minor. We need to send a much stronger message that we find such dangerous behavior completely unacceptable,” Mainor said.A disorderly persons offense can be punished with 6 months imprisonment and a fine up to $1,000.Most states have statutes which enhance penalties for drunk driving with a minor in the vehicle, these statutes are usually known as DUI Child Endangerment. States without these enhanced penalties include Alaska, Connecticut, Indiana, Missouri, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, and Vermont. In four states, New York, Arizona, Oklahoma, and Texas, it is a felony to drive drunk with a child passenger in a vehicle. New Jersey’s bill A-1015 is currently in its second reading. A person convicted of drunk driving with a minor would still be guilty of a disorderly persons offense but they would be guilty of a crime under the fourth degree if the minor suffered bodily injury. Fourth degree crimes are punishable by up to 18 months imprisonment and/or a fine up to $10,000. If the minor suffered serious bodily injury then the offender would be guilty of a crime in the third degree, which is punishable with up to five years imprisonment and up to $15,000 in fines.