Late yesterday, the governor signed into law A2259. This bill amends in significant respects the provisions of the refusal statute under N.J.S.A. 39:4-50.4a. Under the new version of the law, a first offender (non-school zone) will be subject to a license suspension ranging from 7 months to one year. This suspension term may be served either concurrently or consecutively to a suspension based upon a conviction for a dwi charge arising out of the same factual transaction. Subsequent offenses will result in a suspension in non-school zone cases of two years for a second offense and ten years for a third or subsequent offense. Second and subsequent license suspensions must be served consecutively to a dwi suspension.
The fine range has been increased in non-school zone cases as well. First offense fine is $300 to $500. Second offense is $500 to $1000. Third offense is $1000.
School zone fines and d/l suspensions are basically a doubling of the standard penalties, except for a first offense school zone, the suspension range is 1 to 2 years.
A2259 also amends the dwi statute in that it requires the attorney general to promulgate guidelines concerning the prosecution of refusal violations. The guidelines must be disseminated to county and municipal prosecutors within 120 days of yesterday.
The relevant new statutes are below.
The new version of N.J.S.A. 39:4-50.4a reads as follows:
2. a. Except as provided in subsection b. of this section, the municipal court shall revoke the right to operate a motor vehicle of any operator who, after being arrested for a violation of R.S.39:4-50, shall refuse to submit to a test provided for in section 2 of P.L.1966, c.142 (C.39:4-50.2) when requested to do so, for not less than seven months or more than one year unless the refusal was in connection with a second offense under this section, in which case the revocation period shall be for two years or unless the refusal was in connection with a third or subsequent offense under this section in which case the revocation shall be for ten years. A conviction or administrative determination of a violation of a law of a substantially similar nature in another jurisdiction, regardless of whether that jurisdiction is a signatory to the Interstate Driver License Compact pursuant to P.L.1966, c.73 (C.39:5D-1 et seq.), shall constitute a prior conviction under this section.
The municipal court shall determine by a preponderance of the evidence whether the arresting officer had probable cause to believe that the person had been driving or was in actual physical control of a motor vehicle on the public highways or quasi-public areas of this State while the person was under the influence of intoxicating liquor or a narcotic, hallucinogenic, or habit-producing drug or marijuana; whether the person was placed under arrest, if appropriate, and whether he refused to submit to the test upon request of the officer; and if these elements of the violation are not established, no conviction shall issue. In addition to any other requirements provided by law, a person whose operator’s license is revoked for refusing to submit to a test shall be referred to an Intoxicated Driver Resource Center established by subsection (f.) of R.S.39:4-50 and shall satisfy the same requirements of the center for refusal to submit to a test as provided for in section 2 of P.L.1966, c.142 (C.39:4-50.2) in connection with a first, second, third or subsequent offense under this section that must be satisfied by a person convicted of a commensurate violation of this section, or be subject to the same penalties as such a person for failure to do so. For a first offense, the revocation may be concurrent with or consecutive to any revocation imposed for a conviction under the provisions of R.S.39:4-50 arising out of the same incident. For a second or subsequent offense, the revocation shall be consecutive to any revocation imposed for a conviction under the provisions of R.S.39:4-50. In addition to issuing a revocation, except as provided in subsection b. of this section, the municipal court shall fine a person convicted under this section, a fine of not less than $300 or more than $500 for a first offense; a fine of not less than $500 or more than $1,000 for a second offense; and a fine of $1,000 for a third or subsequent offense.
b. For a first offense, the fine imposed upon the convicted person shall be not less than $600 or more than $1,000 and the period of license suspension shall be not less than one year or more than two years; for a second offense, a fine of not less than $1,000 or more than $2,000 and a license suspension for a period of four years; and for a third or subsequent offense, a fine of $2,000 and a license suspension for a period of 20 years when a violation of this section occurs while:
(1) on any school property used for school purposes which is owned by or leased to any elementary or secondary school or school board, or within 1,000 feet of such school property;
(2) driving through a school crossing as defined in R.S.39:1-1 if the municipality, by ordinance or resolution, has designated the school crossing as such; or
(3) driving through a school crossing as defined in R.S.39:1-1 knowing that juveniles are present if the municipality has not designated the school crossing as such by ordinance or resolution.
A map or true copy of a map depicting the location and boundaries of the area on or within 1,000 feet of any property used for school purposes which is owned by or leased to any elementary or secondary school or school board produced pursuant to section 1 of P.L.1997, c.101 (C.2C:35-7) may be used in a prosecution under paragraph (1) of this subsection.
It shall not be relevant to the imposition of sentence pursuant to paragraph (1) or (2) of this subsection that the defendant was unaware that the prohibited conduct took place while on or within 1,000 feet of any school property or while driving through a school crossing. Nor shall it be relevant to the imposition of sentence that no juveniles were present on the school property or crossing zone at the time of the offense or that the school was not in session.
Amendment to N.J.S.A. 39:4-50 reads as follows:
In order to promote the uniform enforcement of R.S.39:4-50 and section 2 of P.L.1966, c.142 (C.39:4-50.2), the Attorney General shall promulgate guidelines concerning the prosecution of such violations. The guidelines shall be disseminated to county and municipal prosecutors within 120 days of the effective date of this act. 1[3.] 4.1 This act shall take effect immediately.
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