NJ Law & Penalties for DWI with a Child in the Car

A significant amount of press has been generated concerning the recently enacted NY state law governing drunk driving with a child. The law was the byproduct of a horrific DWI accident last year wherein eight individuals died as a result of an intoxicated housewife. The new law imposes a mandatory jail sentence for up to four (4) years in prison. The question that has been posed to me by several individuals is whether NJ has and/or is proposing a similar law. My response has been – YES.

In New Jersey, a parent or adult who commits a DWI with a child in the car is exposed to a charge of Endangering the Welfare of a Child. This offense is often filed as a Second Degree Crime, especially where an accident and injury is involved. A second degree offense like endangering carries a period of incarceration of between 5 and 10 years in prison.

A DWI case in NJ obviously becomes much more complicated when the operation involves a minor occupying the subject vehicle. This has been the situation for many years now unlike what has more recently occurred in New York. Notwithstanding, we have found that the vast majority of these cases can be resolved without any form of incarceration.