Proposed law would expand NJ’s DUI ignition lock program

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TRENTON -

A bill endorsed by the New Jersey Senate Judiciary Committee would expand the state’s DUI ignition interlock program.

The device acts like a breathalyzer and won’t allow a car to start if the driver’s blood alcohol content is too high. Under current law, only repeat offenders or drivers convicted of drunken driving who had a BAC of .15 are required to have a lock installed.

The new law would make it so that anyone who was convicted of a DUI must have the lock installed.

“Just taking away that little plastic piece of card, their license, doesn't stop them from doing anything,” says the bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Nicholas Scutari. “This will absolutely mechanically stop them from being able to drive a vehicle."

New Jersey resident Steven Benvenisti spent months in the hospital after he was critically injured by a drunken driver. He says that he is in support of this bill.

Benvenisti says that he was out with his fraternity brothers when he was struck by a repeat offender drunken driver, who went against the flow of traffic.

“My legs were crushed upon impact. My head and face smashed through his outside windshield. My body was thrown, it was measured up to be 70 feet… landed face down,” he says.

Benvenisti spent two weeks in a coma and underwent 15 surgeries. He luckily made a full recovery and now is a national member of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, fighting to prevent what happened to him to happen to anyone else. He says that Scutari’s bill will have an impact on New Jersey if it is passed.

"I’ll appreciate it on behalf of all the people in the state who have no idea that they're alive and their life was spared because of a change in the law,” he says.

The bill also has the potential to lessen the penalty when it comes to license suspension for first time offenders. 

It now heads to the state Senate for consideration.

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