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Legislation Assemblyman John F. McKeon sponsored to crack down on motorists repeatedly caught driving with a license that was suspended due to a DUI offense was approved Monday by the Assembly.

The measure (A-4303) would impose mandatory jail time from six months to a year and make it a crime of the fourth degree – with fines up to $10,000 – for anyone caught driving under the influence while currently suspended for a previous DUI or previous refusal to take a breath test.

It would also apply to anyone caught driving two times or more while suspended for a DUI or refusal to take a breath test, even if they are not intoxicated.

“Driving under the influence is a serious offense and we must ensure that individuals who are charged with DUI offenses do not make the same mistake again,” said McKeon (D-West Orange). “By making penalties more stringent we are sending a clear message to DUI offenders that we will not tolerate behavior that jeopardizes the safety and welfare of not just themselves but innocent bystanders.”

Under current law, anyone caught driving with a suspended license is subject to a $500 fine and a license suspension of up to an additional six months. Anyone caught driving while suspended a second time is subject to a $750 fine, another six months license suspension and anywhere from one to five days in county jail. Third or subsequent offenders are subject to $1000 fine, another six months license suspension and 10 days in county jail.

McKeon also sponsored a bill (A-4202) that was approved by the Assembly last month to impose a fine of $1,000, up to 15 days of jail time or both for anyone who knowingly lends their vehicle to someone with a license suspended license due to a DUI conviction or refusal to take a breath test.

These penalties would apply to the first and second time an individual is caught loaning their car under the above circumstances. If an individual is caught violating this bill a third time or more, they would get a $1,000 fine, up to 15 days jail time and forfeit their own driving privileges for 90 days.

Under current law, this type of offense only carries penalties ranging from $200 to $500 and up to 15 days in jail.

McKeon teamed up with Sens. Richard J. Codey, Barbara Buono and John Girgenti to craft legislation in response to reports released this summer of an East Rutherford man who injured another man and his young daughter in a DUI-related accident. The driver was later found to have 12 previous DUI convictions and 78 license suspensions.

“Making the irresponsible choice to drive while under the influence is a decision that should never be repeated,” said McKeon. “By imposing stiff penalties and jail time, we are deterring repeat drunk drivers and individuals who loan their own vehicles to DUI offenders who have a suspended license from repeating this reckless behavior.”

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