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New Jersey Senate May Change Drunken Driving Penalties

TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) -- New Jersey Senate members are considering a proposal loosening up some of the penalties for first-time drunken driving offenders who currently lose their licenses for three months.

The measure would suspend licenses for motorists who have blood-alcohol levels between 0.08 and 0.10 percent for 10 days. They would be required to install a device on their car's ignition that measures blood-alcohol content for three months.

New Jersey Senate May Change Drunken Driving Penalties

The device prevents the vehicle from starting for readings above 0.05 percent.

Motorists would have to install the interlock for seven months to a year if their blood-alcohol levels are between 0.10 and 0.15 percent.

Repeat offenders would face tougher penalties.

Attorney Steven Benvenisti, who represents drunken driving victims, said this bill is long overdue.

"Twenty-five other states have already implemented this legislation and those states have seen a reduction in fatalities on the roadways of up to 45 percent," he told WCBS 880's Levon Putney. "Every year in the United States we lose 10,000 people because of drunk driving and now we finally have a device that can reduce those numbers so dramatically. And this isn't theory, this has been proven."

Benvenisti himself was hit and critically hurt by a repeat drunken driver 21 years ago. He was unconscious for almost two weeks, hospitalized for six months and underwent 15 surgeries.

"Had there been ignition interlock devices back when I was in college, the crash would never have occurred," he said.

The Assembly passed the bill.

(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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