NJ Drunk Driving News: Sobriety Testing May Become Mandatory in Cases of Serious, Fatal Auto Accidents

Any one who has ever been arrested for DWI or charged with drunk driving here in New Jersey would likely agree that law enforcement and the judicial system have a very low tolerance for DWI offenders. With intensive drunken driving campaigns, roadside sobriety checkpoints and enhanced DWI and DUI patrols on public roads, the pressure is on to reduce instances of driving while intoxicated.

As a New Jersey drunk driving defense attorney with a staff of professional attorneys, I was not too surprised to read that the state legislature has been pushing for mandatory sobriety testing following any fatal traffic accident here in the Garden State.

According to news reports, a bill sponsored by Democratic Assemblymen Nelson Albano (Cape May Court House) and Paul Moriarty (Turnersville) would make it mandatory for a driver to either submit to a breathalyzer test (such as the Alcotest device) or to give up an actual sample his or her blood to allow authorities to determine whether alcohol or drugs were present in that individual’s bloodstream and therefore may have been contributing factor in the crash.

As a part of the bill, any individual who refuses this proposed mandatory testing would be subject to the same penalties as those levied against a driver convicted of refusal in DWI-related cases. First offenders could receive fines as high as $1,000, not to mention have their driver’s license suspended for as much as two years.

Many are arguing that testing for possible drug use or alcohol consumption should be the rule where fatal or near-fatal accidents are concern. In fact, this new bill was created out of a fatal single-vehicle crash in Burlington County back in the summer of 2007. In that crash, a 17-year-old boy was killed when the vehicle in which he was a passenger hit a tree.

As permitted by law, the body of the dead teen, Anthony Farrace, was tested for the presence of alcohol or drugs, however the 17-year-old female driver was not required to submit to a blood-alcohol (BAC) test. The young woman was ultimately charged with careless driving — paid $200 fine and her driver’s license was suspended for six months.

N.J. bill would make drivers involved in fatal crashes submit to sobriety testing, NJ.com, August 08, 2010