Easter Tragedy Spurs Debate over NJ DUI Laws
Are New Jersey DUI laws too lax, or are they not enforced sufficiently? That’s what anti-drunk-driving activists and state legislators are debating after an Easter weekend traffic collision killed an elderly couple and injured several others. Twenty-three-year-old Frank Cabezas was arrested March 26 on multiple charges that include DWI, two counts of death by auto, and multiple counts of assault. Just three weeks earlier, Cabezas had been arrested on a DWI charge, one in a long line of offenses that produced five license suspensions in four years. Remarkably, Cabezas’ license was valid at the time of the Easter weekend crash.
The Cabezas incident and cases have activists calling for a strengthening of New Jersey DUI laws. To address the issue of DUI offenders driving with suspended licenses, MADD, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, is supporting a change in the law that would require first-time DUI offenders to install ignition interlock devices in their cars. Currently, the law only requires ignition interlock after a second conviction. Governor Christie recently vetoed a bill that included such a provision, because it also reduced the period of license suspension from seven months to three.
But lawmakers including Assemblyman John Wisniewski, of Middlesex, favor stricter enforcement of existing laws over new legislation. He questions whether charges are being adequately prosecuted and recommends that DUI suspects be prosecuted “to the fullest extent that the law allows.”
Given the current political environment, it is especially prudent not to drink and drive. However, if you find yourself facing DUI prosecution to “the fullest extent” of the law, you should be very careful about the attorney you choose to represent you.