Sure, DWI Can Be Costly; But Drinking and Driving with Kids on Board is Worse

As professional trial lawyers, the skilled legal team at the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall have been practicing law collectively for nearly a century. Having represented countless numbers of motorists who have been accused of drug DUI, DWI, CDS possession in a motor vehicle, breath test refusal and other drug and alcohol-related offenses, we know quite a bit about how to win tough cases. We also know that getting in over one’s head is easier than one might expert here in the Garden State, as well as elsewhere.

Because of our extensive legal experience, we understand New Jersey’s rather strict DWI-DUI statutes. We also know how the law can affect outcomes in the courtroom when drunken driving cases involve injury-related highway accidents in areas such as Bergen, Monmouth, Atlantic and Ocean County.

One of the more serious drunk driving-related charges that can affect parents, grandparents, babysitters and driving-age siblings has to do with intoxicated driving and something called “child endangerment.” For motorists who are found to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs while driving toddlers, small children and even teenagers in their vehicle, the penalties can be much worse than just a “simple” DWI or drug DUI.

New Jersey state law (N.J.S.A. 39:4-50.15) calls for an added six-month license suspension on top of any other penalties should a defendant be convicted of child endangerment. Of course, this should not surprise too many people since our state legislators long ago placed penalties on the books to help protect those younger members of our society who don’t have the power to make their own decisions.

Even with longer license suspensions and greater potential monetary penalties, our news outlets continue to report instances of child endangerment by people all across the country. Most recently, New York police arrested a couple drivers, one from the Empire State and another from New Jersey. In the latter incident, a 44-year-old Jersey City resident was taken into custody for violating New York State’s Leandra’s Law.

Leandra’s Law, also known as the Child Passenger Protection Act, makes it an automatic felony in New York, even for first-time offenders, to drink and drive with a person age 15 or younger riding in a motor vehicle (a blood-alcohol content of 0.08 percent or more applies). That law has been in effect since late 2009.

According to news reports, Carlos F. Araujo-Gomez was stopped by police traveling westbound along a stretch of the Long Island Expressway near Exit 33 after officers allegedly observed the man’s Mercedes sport utility vehicle swerving in and out of its lane. After stopping the vehicle, patrolmen apparently found two occupants — the driver and his 8-year-old daughter, who was located in a child restraint seat in the back seat. The man was subsequently arrested on drunk driving charges, as well as endangering the welfare of a child and several other traffic violations.

In another incident, a New York resident operating a late model VW Passat was stopped by police along a portion of Middle Country Rd. in Suffolk Co., NY, early on a Sunday morning after officers reportedly observed the 25-year-old’s car apparently drifting in and out of its lane. During the traffic stop, the policemen determined that the driver was impaired by alcohol. Because he was also traveling with his 5-year-old and 8-month-old children in the back of the vehicle, he was arrested on two counts of child endangerment, as well as aggravated DWI.

Long Island Dad With 2 Kids In Car Charged With DWI, CBSLocal.com, September 21, 2014
Man arrested for DWI, violating Leandra’s Law; TheIslandNow.com; September 18, 2014