(TRENTON) — A two-bill package Assemblyman John F. McKeon sponsored to crack down on motorists repeatedly caught driving under the influence or driving with a license suspended due to DUI offenses was signed into law Monday by Gov. Jon S. Corzine.

Under the two-bill package, new penalties are imposed on individuals caught knowingly lending their vehicle to someone with a suspended or revoked license. McKeon said the effort will deter those who enable repeat offenders.

“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.”

McKeon crafted the 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.”

The first law (A-4302) imposes 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 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 get a $1,000 fine, up to 15 days jail time and forfeit their own driving privileges for 90 days.

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

The second law (A-4303) imposes 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 also applies 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.

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