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Drunk Driving Laws Should Balance Rehabilitation With Penalties

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Drunk Driving Laws Should Balance Rehabilitation With Penalties

August 14, 2014

Given its proximity to New York City and other locations in the Empire State, New Jersey drivers may find that they cross state lines on a fairly regular basis. However, if any travel plans include drinking, drivers should take extra care that they are under the legal limit of 0.08 percent.

The reason for the extra precaution is a bill called Vince’s Law that New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo recently signed into law. Under the new provisions, which will go into effect in November 2014, drivers with at least three previous driving while intoxicated convictions within 15 years of the most recent incident will face escalated penalties. A repeat offender could be sentenced to up to seven years in state prison, and/or be fined up to $10,000.

Yet this is not the first time that Gov. Cuomo has approved harsher penalties for drunk driving offenders. In July 2013, he approved a change to Leandra’s Law, which is the law that imposes felony charges against an intoxicated driver who has children in his or her car. The amended version now requires even first-time offenders to install ignition interlocks in their vehicles.

Proponents of more aggressive enforcement measures against drunk drivers note that repeat offenders may comprise up to half of the state’s drunk driving arrests each year. Yet an attorney that focuses on the defense of driving under the influence charges knows that reform is accomplished by more than just penalties.

For someone with a drinking issue, the answer might not be jail time. Instead, community service, probation, rehabilitation therapies and other alternative sentencing approaches might be more effective. An attorney that focuses on DUI defense may have strategies for negotiating with prosecutors for an outcome that helps both the criminal defendant and the public.

Source: SI Live, “Getting repeat DWI offenders off our roads,” Aug. 2 2014

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