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New Jersey Bill Would Mandate DWI Testing after Fatal Accidents

August 17, 2010 | Posted In Recent News - Criminal Law, Municipal Court

A new bill that would require testing for DWI, including a breathalyzer test or a blood-alcohol test, after every fatal or deadly accident, has New Jersey DWI defense lawyers very concerned. 

The bill has been sponsored by Democratic Assemblyman Nelson Albano of Cape May Court House and Paul Moriarity of Turnersville.  Under New Jersey's current laws, drivers involved in a fatal accident are only required to submit to testing for drugs or alcohol, if there is evidence that there was intoxicated driving involved.  However, the new bill would require a driver in any accident that results in fatalities or serious injuries, to submit to a breathalyzer test or a blood test to determine whether drunk driving was involved, regardless of whether alcohol use seems to be a factor in the accident or not.  Motorists who refuse to take a breathalyzer or blood test, would be subjected to the same penalties that currently apply to motorists convicted on DWI testing refusal charges.

The bill has already been approved by the Assembly's Law and Public Safety Committee, and has now been sent to the assembly.  So far, no date has been set for a vote.

DUI attorneys in New Jersey will be very concerned at the prospect of misuse of such a law.  If the bill were to pass, then any driver involved in a deadly accident, whether this was caused through his fault or not, would be subjected to testing at the scene.  The bill would make just about every motorist involved in a fatal or deadly accident in New Jersey, a possible DUI suspect.  Even if you're the innocent party in an accident, and have been injured yourself, you could still be subjected to a breathalyzer or blood test on the site. 

There's also the question of what exactly constitutes “serious injury” here.  Who defines exactly how much physical injury should have occurred for DWI testing to take place?  If you're going to test every motorist in a serious accident for DUI, then you should perhaps also access cell phone records in every accident to see if motorists were texting or talking on the cell phone at the time of the crash.

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