This should come as no surprise to any New Jersey criminal defense lawyer: A new report indicates that New Jersey’s tough DUI penalties, including arrests and license suspensions, have had little effect on the number of people arrested for DUI in the state.
Some New Jersey State Police will have you believe that there has been a dramatic decline in the number of DUI arrests over the past few years. However, the 27,838 arrests made for DUI in New Jersey last year comprised a decline of just 3 percent over the previous year. The number of arrests each year has stayed at roughly the same levels since a near-record peak of 30,500 DUI arrests in 2007.
Statistics also show that the heavy penalties and surcharges that have been levied on DUI offenders since the 90s have not contributed to a substantial decrease in the number of arrests. For example, New Jersey DUI arrests last year decreased by 4 percent from the number of arrests in 1999. That year, penalties for DUI did not include a $1,000 surcharge that DUI offenders are now required to pay the state for three years after their conviction. In other words, the fact that DUI offenders are required to pay the state a $1,000 surcharge for three years after a DUI conviction has not led to the dramatic declines in DUI arrests that the rules had promised.
The Director of the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety acknowledges that the declines have not been as substantial as hoped for and that DUI continues to be prevalent in New Jersey. In fact, the number of fatalities in alcohol-related accidents in New Jersey actually went up slightly in 2009.