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Diversion penalties considered for New Jersey DWI recipients

The law should ensure that lawbreakers receive needed penalties without negatively impacting the rest of their lives and providing them with the opportunity to function as upstanding members of society. This allows a person convicted of a crime the chance to turn things around while still paying back the debt to society. First-time DWI offenders may soon be able to complete a diversion program in New Jersey, if momentum grows for changing current law. 

Under current state law, a first-time drunk driving offender loses their drivers license for three to 12 months and typically pays thousands of dollars in court fines. The offense will remain on the person's record for life. Even awareness groups, such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), advocate for less stringent penalties for first-timers, as long as certain programs are implemented. 

Diversion programs, which allow offenders to complete a program and have the conviction removed from their records, are in effect in neighboring states. MADD says that they will support a similar diversion program in New Jersey as long as the offender must keep an ignition interlock device on his or her motor vehicle for at least six months. Any offenders who have injured another person would be ineligible for the program. 

Life has it's ups and downs, and no person is exempt from the occasional mistake. Diversion programs allow a person to take an error and turn it around with minimal lasting effect. Perhaps New Jersey laws for DWI will soon change, but regardless, a person charged with drunk driving in the state will need to defend against the charges in court. An experienced criminal defense attorney can be a valuable resource for anyone facing these circumstances. 

Source: nj1015.com, "Should NJ offer first-time DUI offenders a diversion program?", David Matthau, Accessed on Aug. 30, 2017

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