A Second DUI Charge is Slated to Become a Criminal Offense in New Jersey
The proposed DUI law, was approved by the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee and released to the full assembly to address issues raised by the recent arrest of Anderson Sotomayor in Vineland for allegedly driving while intoxicated on five separate occasions between April 9, 2012 and May 16, 2012. The Vineland police asked a Superior Court judge to set bail for Sotomayor after his forth DUI arrest on May 12, 2012 to stop him from driving. The on-call judge refused to set bail because a DUI offense is a traffic offense – not a crime in New Jersey.
The assembly bill is identical to a measure that will eventually go before the State Senate Law and Public Safety Committee.
The bills before the two legislative committees state that:
1. A person convicted of a second or subsequent drunk driving offense that occurred within 60 days of the first offense would be charged with a fourth-degree crime. A fourth-degree crime is punishable by a fine up to $10,000, and 18 months state prison;
2. A court can set bail of as much as $10,000 when a person is charged with a second or subsequent drunken driving offense within 60 days of the first offense. The court can also suspend the person’s driving privileges at the time of arrest under such circumstances.
3. Law enforcement officers must record all drunken driving summons into the appropriate system within three hours of the end of the shift during which they issued a DUI summons.
Votes on the proposed bills have not, as yet, been scheduled in the New Jersey senate and assembly. Now, even though a second-offender DUI is a traffic offense, there is a mandatory loss of driving privileges for two years. During that time period, the defendant may not operate a motor vehicle in New Jersey for any reason. If the person does operate a motor vehicle during the period of suspension imposed by the Court, he or she will be subject to a mandatory jail sentence and certain other enhanced penalties under the driving on the revoked list statute. A jail sentence is mandatory for a second offense DUI offender. The term of incarceration must be for at least two days and no more than 90 days. The two-day jail term may not be suspended or served on probation. However, a person need not necessarily serve the two-day sentence in a county jail. N.J.S.A. 39:4-50(a)(3) permits the sentencing judge to order the defendant to serve a jail sentence in an inpatient rehabilitation program or in the intoxicated driver program. In most cases involving second offenders, the jail sentence will be satisfied by a 48-hour period of detention in the IDRC.
The proposed law would increase the potential jail time to 18 months state prison for a second offender under the above circumstances. The proposed law would require the second offender DUI case to be handled in county superior court. The person would, however, be entitled to a jury trial in a criminal DUI case.
Contact the Law Offices of John W. Tumelty if you have any questions about DUI. Visit our website at www.johntumeltylaw.com