Scutari & Stender Recognized by MADD as ‘2014 Legislative Champions’ for Efforts to Prevent Drunk Driving

Recognized As Two-Time Winners By Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) New Jersey for Authoring Ignition Interlock Legislation

(TRENTON) — State Senator Nicholas P. Scutari and Assemblywoman Linda Stender (both D-Middlesex/Somerset/Union) have been recognized as 2014 Legislative Champions by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) for their work to prevent drunk driving in New Jersey by authoring lifesaving ignition interlock legislation.

“I am honored to be recognized two years in a row by MADD, an organization with a mission to protect the lives of people in New Jersey, mirroring our own goals to enhance public safety,” said Senator Scutari. “With this legislation, we aim to combat drunk driving through reasonable changes to state penalties and more secured measures that will ensure drivers abide by the law. We know how important this piece of legislation is for ensuring the safety of the public. Improving the safety of pedestrians and drivers through the ignition locks is a continued effort by both MADD and our team and we look forward to working together to make this bill a reality.”

“This recognition from an organization so committed to its cause is an award that I am deeply grateful to receive,” said Assemblywoman Stender. “By working alongside MADD, we have brought our mission closer to reducing the number of deaths caused by drunk driving. We look forward to continuing our work to reform the current penalty structure for drunk driving offenses to enhance public safety on our roadways.”

In New Jersey, about a third of all traffic fatalities are attributable to drunken driving. Now celebrating its 35th anniversary, MADD has advocated for the ignition interlock devices in states across the country, as part of its Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving. This year, the organization will start a “5-year Strategic Plan” incorporating in its goals to decrease 25% the number of “drunk driving fatalities by 2025.” The organization has noted that the interlock is more effective than license suspension alone, as 50 to 75 percent of convicted drunk drivers continue to drive on a suspended license.

The legislators’ bill (S385/A1368) would impose a presumption towards the installation of an ignition interlock device for first time offenders and require the device for repeat offenders. The court would also hold discretion in providing longer term suspensions for repeat offenders. Currently in New Jersey, the devices are required for all repeat offenders and first-time offenders with a blood alcohol concentration of .15 or greater.