A bill advancing through the New Jersey legislature could make DUI testing mandatory in any fatal or serious car crash.
According to NJ.com, the legislation was prompted by a fatal one-car crash in Southampton, New Jersey in July 2007. Anthony Farrace, a passenger in the car, was killed when it hit a tree, and his body was tested for drugs and alcohol like in any autopsy.
The seventeen-year-old driver, however, was not required to submit to testing and was cited for careless driving and received a $200 fine and her license was suspended for six months. The accident incited Farrace’s father to push for a change in the New Jersey DUI laws.
Currently, drivers can only be tested when there is evidence or a strong suspicion that the driver is under the influence.
The new DUI law would require drivers to submit to a breath test or a blood test. If drivers refused to submit, then they would be subject to the same penalties as drivers who refused to submit in a DUI stop. First offenders could face fines of up to $1,000 and have their licenses suspended for up to two years.
A similar law is currently being considered in Illinois.
According to the New Jersey News Room, the bill is being sponsored by Democrats Nelson Albano and Paul Moriarty. Albano believes that the bill “makes common sense,” and that police would be able to “determine whether a driver was under the influence, and would be able to insure that impaired drivers don’t get back behind the wheel and will face serious charges.”
Moriarty is quoted as saying that “ testing for potential alcohol or drug use should be the rule when accidents result in death or serious injury, not the exception.”
The opposite side, of course, is that this is a bad road to head down. Landline, a magazine for truckers, points out that this expansion of implied consent laws and repudiation of probable cause is troubling, and would open the state to numerous headaches down the road because it is so invasive.
However, the article also notes that this is the second bill, and an identical effort died a year ago in committee.
This time around though, things look like they’re going differently. The New Jersey Assembly’s Law and Public Safety committee approved the measure in June, and forwarded it to the full Assembly in June, but a date for a final vote has yet to be decided.
What do you think? Is this an appropriate measure that will protect citizens and should be more widely adopted? Or is it an invasion of privacy which New Jersey should avoid putting into law?