TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Linda Greenstein establishing a Commission to examine New Jersey’s drunk driving laws cleared the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee today.
The joint resolution (SJR-117) would establish a 19-member “Commission on Drunk and Impaired Driving” to examine methods to reduce the incidence of drunk and impaired driving and make recommendations to enhance government services, enforcement, education, and interventions to prevent drunk and impaired driving.
“It is time to reexamine our current laws and see where we can make improvements. This legislation is about taking proactive measures to see what is working and what is not, and working to implement the most effective strategies,” said Senator Greenstein. “Our goal is to improve the safety of our roadways, and this commission is an important step in that effort.”
The Commission would consider several different issues including, the effectiveness of the State’s current penalties for driving under the influence (DUI) as well as the State’s compliance with current federal law and regulations regarding repeat DUI offenders. It would also look at responses to repeat offenders, including screening and treatment for alcohol or drug addiction, medication-assisted therapies, IIDs, electronic monitoring, intensive supervision, and criminal prosecution.
“Our police and law enforcement officials do a tremendous job of enforcing the law and keeping the roads safe. However, what a driver might not understand is that being impaired isn’t just about having too many drinks, it can also result from a bad reaction to prescription medicine, which is something this commission will look at,” added Senator Greenstein.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, every day, 28 people in the United States die in motor vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver. This is one death every 51 minutes. The annual cost of alcohol-related crashes totals more than $44 billion.
The Commission would organize within 30 days after a majority of its members have been appointed. The commission would report its findings and recommendations, including legislative proposals, to the Governor and to the Legislature within 12 months of organizing.
The resolution cleared the committee 4-0. The bill will head to the full Senate for further consideration.