New Jersey may be strengthening its drunk driving laws when it comes to adults who drive under the influence with a child in the vehicle. At present, a person convicted of drunk driving may be jailed for up to six months if a child is a passenger in the vehicle at the time of the offense. Drunk driving is considered a disorderly persons offense.

However, a new bill may increase penalties. This bill proposes a possible five years in prison for drunk driving incidents in which a child is seriously injured and up to a year and a half if the child is injured less seriously.

On June 11, 77 members of the Assembly voted in favor of the bill that had several co-sponsors There was one abstention. One of the bill’s sponsors said that drunk driving with a child in the vehicle is a type of child endangerment.

Whether or not a child is involved, an individual who is facing DUI charges may wish to consult an attorney. There may be a number of different types of defenses available depending upon the circumstances. For example, a motorist may not do well on a field sobriety test despite not having consumed any alcohol. A medical condition or unexpected reaction to a prescription medication might make a person appear to be under the influence. A police officer might also have followed improper procedures in detaining the motorist, and this may lead to dismissal of the charges altogether. Another possibility is a plea bargain in which a defendant pleads guilty in exchange for a lighter sentence and avoids a trial. A criminal defense attorney may be able to suggest the best strategy to be used.