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Mr. Tumelty represented Helena Hendricks, who was charged with first degree murder in Atlantic County Superior Court. The defendant faced a number of additional charges, including armed robbery, conspiracy and possession of a handgun for an unlawful purpose. At the conclusion of a jury trial that lasted three weeks, the defendant was found "not guilty" of all charges.

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Proposed Bill Calls for Required Ignition Interlock Devices

The New Jersey legislature is considering a bill that would require the installation of an ignition interlock device for everyone convicted of driving under the influence (DUI), even first time offenders. In New Jersey, driving with a blood alcohol level concentration (BAC) of .08 percent or higher is considered DUI.

With an ignition interlock device, a driver blows into a tube attached to the dashboard of the car. The car will not start if that person’s BAC exceeds .05 percent. Even if a convicted individual does not own a car, he or she can only drive one that has the lock device under the proposed law. The device costs $3 a day to lease, and the offender must pay for it himself.

Currently, under New Jersey law, a first time conviction for DUI usually carries a penalty of a license suspension from three months to a year along with varying amounts in fines and potential jail time up to 30 days. Repeat offenders, as well as some first time offenders whose BAC is exceptionally high are already required to install the interlock ignition devices.

Under the bill being considered, first time offenders would have to install the ignition interlock devices but the accompanying fines would be lowered as well as the time of the license suspension or, perhaps, no suspension at all.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) assert that ignition interlock devices are very effective in preventing repeat DUI offenses. The CDC cites research that ignition interlock devices reduce re-arrest rates by a median of 67 percent. Individuals with the lock devices also have fewer DUI crashes than those are punished with a license suspension.

Source: NJ Online, “Driving after DWI? Lawmaker mulls ignition lock instead of suspension for first offense,” 6/25/2012

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