A prior history of drunk driving and DUI charges can escalate a DUI offense, especially when an auto accident caused by driving under the influence results in injury or death, New Jersey drunk driving lawyers say. The high-profile arrest of Dallas Cowboys’ team member Joshua Brent last month is one example of a repeat offender facing arrest. Brent was driving his Mercedes at high speed when the car hit a curb and flipped, traveling almost 1,000 feet before catching fire. Brent’s teammate and passenger, Jerry Brown Jr., was killed in the accident, and Brent was arrested at the scene on suspicion of intoxication manslaughter.
Despite the Safe Rides program, an effort by the NFL Players Association to reduce player DUIs, Brent is the latest in a series of celebrity football players to be involved in drunk driving incidents, New Jersey DUI attorneys say, and the 24-year-old tackle’s previous run-in with the law came back to bite him this time around. In 2009, Brent pleaded guilty to a drunken driving charge in Illinois, and was ordered to pay a fine and sentenced to 60 days of jail time and 200 hours of community service. This time, however, Brent’s sentence could be much more severe. An intoxication manslaughter charge, which is a second-degree felony, carries a jail sentence of two to twenty years, and a maximum fine of $10,000.00.
In New Jersey, a first offense for drunk driving is not considered a crime, but lawmakers and state officials have begun cracking down on repeat offenders, proposing tougher punishments for those who have a prior record of driving under the influence. While drunk driving is dangerous, and a leading cause of automobile accidents, New Jersey DUI attorneys warn that harsher sentencing rules for second and third-time offenders may lead to overzealous prosecution if judges and juries strive to keep drunk drivers off the street at any cost. In Brent’s case, the criminal charges he faces could land him in jail for years as well as end his career in the NFL.
A DUI charge could be potentially damaging for any driver, New Jersey drunk driving lawyers warn, and the best way to avoid jail time or a permanent record is to drive safe and drink smart.