SENATE LAW AND PUBLIC SAFETY AND VETERANS' AFFAIRS COMMITTEE

 

STATEMENT TO

 

[First Reprint]

ASSEMBLY, No. 682

 

with committee amendments

 

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

 

DATED: JANUARY 8, 2004

 

      The Senate Law and Public Safety and Veterans' Affairs Committee reports favorably and with committee amendments Assembly Bill No. 682 (1R).

      Currently, a person who drives with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.10% or higher is considered guilty of drunk driving. This bill would reduce the BAC that constitutes drunk driving to 0.08%. The federal government has statutorily mandated that each state establish driving with a BAC of 0.08% or higher as its per se drunk driving offense. Any state that fails to pass such a law will lose a percentage of its federal highway funding.

      As amended and released by the committee, the bill revises certain penalties for a first offense of drunk driving.

      Under the bill's provisions, if the offender's BAC is 0.08% or higher but less than 0.10%, or if the offender operates a motor vehicle under the influence of intoxicating liquor, or if the offender permits another person under the influence of intoxicating liquor or with a BAC of 0.08% to 0.10% to operate a motor vehicle, the fine imposed would be $250 to $400 and the license suspension would be for three months.

      If the offender's BAC is 0.10% or higher, or if the offender operates a motor vehicle while under the influence of narcotic, hallucinogenic or habit-producing drug, or the offender permits another person who is under the influence of narcotic, hallucinogenic or habit-producing drug to operate a motor vehicle, or permits another person with a BAC of 0.10% or higher to operate a motor vehicle, the fine imposed would be $300 to $500 and the license suspension would be for not less than seven months or more than one year.

      The bill also brings the law imposing penalties on underage persons who operate motor vehicles after consuming alcohol into conformity with the new 0.08% standard.

      At the sponsor's request, the law will be known as "Florence's Law" in honor of the late Florence Nass- the mother of a son killed by a drunken driver, the founder of EndDwi and the constituent who originally requested that the bill be introduced.

      As amended and released by the committee, this bill is identical to the Senate Committee Substitute for Senate Bill Nos. 492 and 921, which also was released by the committee on this same date.