TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — It’s now up to Gov. Chris Christie whether New Jersey will ease the punishment for some motorists convicted of drunken driving.

The state Senate on Thursday passed a bill that changes the penalties for first-time 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 pay to install a device on their car’s ignition that measures blood alcohol content for three months.

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 24 other states have adopted this “all offender” legislation.

“Those 24 other states have immediately started seeing a reduction in drunk driving fatalities of up to 45 percent,” he told WCBS 880’s Levon Putney. “As soon as, hopefully, the governor makes this bill become law we’re going to start seeing reductions in drunk driving fatalities in this state of ours.”

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.

(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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.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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