New DUI Legislation Introduced By State Sen. Steve Oroho
A New Legislation related to driving under the influence has been introduced by State Sen. Steve Oroho which, if passed, will increase the penalties for intoxicated drivers who become the reason of someone’s death.
On Thursday, the bill named as “Ralph and David’s Law” was approved by Senate Law and Public Safety Committee. The bill is named after Ralph Politi Jr. and David Heim; both New Jersey residents who were killed by an individual who was driving under the influence of alcohol.
Heim was only 13-year-old when he died due to a drunk driver in Sussex County back in 2004. He was crossing the street with his mother and siblings when the drunk driver hit him and he lost his life. The driver was convicted of drunken driving and ordered to serve 30 days in prison.
Almost 4 years ago, Politi who was an East Hanover business owner and community activist, died due to an individual who was behind the wheel drunk in 2012. The offender swerved out of her lane and struck him while he was standing near his parked pickup truck. The driver was charged with aggravated manslaughter and vehicular homicide, but was found not guilty in March 2016.
According to Oroho, “Everyone knows the dangers of DUI, so there’s no excuse to spare those selfish individuals who drive when they shouldn’t from being held responsible for the deaths that they cause. Too many of these offenders are getting off with mere slaps on the wrist, while the families of victims are left suffering lifetimes of loss”.
Under the legislation, individuals who choose to consume drugs or alcohol and get behind the wheel will be charged with third-degree strict liability vehicular homicide if they become the reason of any individual’s death. The offender will serve 3 to 5 years in prison for the crime and will be required to pay the amount of $15,000 in fine.
Oroho added, “Under current law, it’s simply too difficult to prosecute and punish a drunk driver who kills someone to an extent that matches the magnitude and impact of their crime. This legislation updates our vehicular homicide laws to ensure that those who kill while driving drunk or high can be held accountable. ”
The crime called as vehicular homicide will be changed to reckless vehicular homicide.
There will be 2 options available to the prosecutors to charge the offender, one is “strict liability vehicular homicide” and the other is “reckless vehicular homicide”. Prosecutors will be required to see circumstances of the case to charge the offender.
On Friday, the Sussex County Prosecutor’s Office didn’t comment on the legislation. The office is waiting for the County Prosecutors Association of the State of New Jersey to give views about the problem.
Both individuals died due to DUI. Oroho said, “David Heim and Ralph Politi had families who loved them and lives full of possibility that were cut short. Our ultimate goal is not to punish, but to discourage and prevent the dangerous activity of DUI so that others will not have to experience such tragedy.”