Union County Lawmakers Honored As MADD 2013 Legislative Champions

State Sen. Nicholas Scutari

State Sen. Nicholas Scutari

TRENTON —Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) today announced its “2013 Legislative Champions” and recognized state Sen. Nicholas Scutari (D-Linden) and Assemblywoman Linda Stender (D-Fanwood) for their leadership within the New Jersey Legislature to stop drunk driving by authoring lifesaving ignition interlock legislation.

“MADD thanks Senator Scutari and Assemblywoman Stender for their dedication and commitment to advancing MADD’s mission in New Jersey. MADD appreciates their leadership in authoring lifesaving DUI reform legislation in New Jersey to ensure that first and second time convicted drunk drivers have an ignition interlock installed during a license suspension period,” said MADD National President Jan Withers.

“I am grateful to receive this recognition from MADD, an organization that is committed to protecting the lives of people across New Jersey,” said Scutari. “Too often we hear about repeat drunk drivers who have gotten behind the wheel and injured or killed someone on our roadways. We all recognized that the current penalty system is not working, and in order to reduce cases of drunk driving we had to take a different approach. I want to thank MADD for its support and advocacy for the ignition interlock legislation and look forward to continuing our work together to ensure it becomes law.”

“I am deeply honored to be recognized by MADD and proud to work alongside their effort to battle drunk drivers and to keep New Jersey drivers safer,” said Stender. “Ignition interlocks are a critical component in preventing convicted drunk drivers from causing serious injury or death to innocent, unsuspecting motorists or pedestrians. There have been many cases of convicted drunk drivers defying their license suspension orders when they think ‘no one is looking.’ This legislation will send a clear message that we are ‘looking’ and we will not tolerate innocent lives being jeopardized. These innocent bystanders are someone’s mother, father, child, sister or brother and no one should have to endure the tragedy of losing them senselessly.”

Assemblywoman Linda Stender

Assemblywoman Linda Stender

In 2013, Scutari authored legislation S 2427 and  Stender A 3835, which requires ignition interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers. The legislation is pending in the House Judiciary Committee.

A major portion of MADD’s advocacy efforts in states originates from the Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving® that was launched in 2006. A key component of the Campaign calls for legislation like S 2427 and H 3835 to be enacted. Prior to the Campaign, only one state, New Mexico, required ignition interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers. Today, 20 states require or highly incentivize the use of ignition interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers. In New Jersey, ignition interlocks are required for all repeat and first-time offenders with a blood alcohol concentration of .15 or greater.

“As a MADD National Board member, New Jersey personal injury attorney and survivor of a pedestrian crash caused by a repeat offender drunk driver, I know firsthand the devastation that can be caused by a repeat offender drunk driver. MADD applauds Senator Scutari and Assemblywoman Stender for authoring legislation improving New Jersey’s DWI law by requiring ignition interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers,” said Steven Benvenisti.

Ignition interlocks are effective in reducing repeat drunk driving offenses by 67 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

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