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New Jersey Breathalyzer Bill

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Last week, New Jersey bill SB1926 was heard by the New Jersey Senate Law, Public Safety and Veterans’ Affairs Committee.  The New Jersey bill would require the installation of breathalyzers in the cars driven by DUI first-time offenders who had a low BAC.

The American Beverage Institute (ABI), “an organization dedicated to the protection of responsible on-premise consumption of adult beverages,” has opposed the New Jersey bill requiring ignition interlocks for drivers convicted of DUI with a low BAC.  However, the organization is in favor of focusing on high BAC drivers and repeat DUI offenders, who the American Beverage Institute believes makes up the core of the drunk driving problem today.

According to ABI Managing Director Sarah Longwell, who was invited to provide expert testimony before the Committee, “we believe that this bill denies judicial discretion and ignores proportional response by mandating ignition interlock devices for low-BAC, first-time offenders.  This bill mandates that even those only one sip over .079 receive a punishment primarily reserved for the high-BAC, repeat offenders who cause the vast majority of alcohol-related fatalities in New Jersey.”

Even the former Mothers Against Drunk Driving president Katherine Prescott has said that the drunk driving problem has to do with “a hard core of alcoholics who do not respond to public appeal.”

Research from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has shown that the average BAC of a drunk driver involved in a fatal crash is .18 percent, which is more than twice the legal limit.

The New Jersey bill would target low BAC, first-time DUI offenders instead of the dangerous drunk drivers on the roads.  Many experts believe that first-time DUI offenders should not receive the same punishment as repeat offenders, which is essence, is what the New Jersey bill would accomplish.

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