New Jersey State Senator Steve Oroho (R-24) recently sponsored a piece of DWI legislation that would increase the penalties faced by individuals who are charged with causing a fatality while driving under the influence in the State of New Jersey.
The proposed bill was first introduced on May 12th, 2016 and was referred to the Assembly Judiciary Committee where it passed on a 69-0-0 vote.
The legislation (Senate Bill No. 2423), which is known as “Ralph and David's Law,” was named in honor of Ralph Politi, Jr. and David Heim - two New Jersey residents who died after being hit by drunk drivers.
The new bill would create a new third-degree crime of “strict liability vehicular homicide” for individuals who cause a death while operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
A third-degree crime is punishable with a prison sentence of between 3 to 5 years and/or a fine of up to $15,000.
Under this legislation, a defendant’s act of driving while intoxicated would be considered the cause of death so long as the death was not too remote in its occurrence, or too dependent on the conduct of another person, to have a just bearing on the defendant’s liability.
Additionally, the bill asserts that it shall not be a defense that the decedent contributed to his or her own death by negligent conduct or operation of a motor vehicle.
The proposed bill also specifies that the presumption of non-imprisonment that usually applies to first offenders convicted of a third-degree crime would not be applicable to individuals convicted of strict liability vehicular manslaughter.
"Under current law, it's simply too difficult to prosecute and punish a drunk driver who kills someone to an extent that matches the magnitude and impact of their crime," Senator Oroho said in a statement regarding the bill. "This legislation updates our vehicular homicide laws to ensure that those who kill while driving drunk or high can be held accountable."
Were you or a loved one arrested on drunk driving charges in the State of New Jersey?
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