New Jersey DWI with a Minor in the Car

carDrunk driving is a serious charge, but it can be even more serious when you have a minor in the car. If you have been charged with a DWI while a minor was in the vehicle, it is important to discuss your case with a New Jersey DWI attorney who can evaluate the facts and can protect your rights accordingly. You will need to act quickly, since the penalties for this offense are extremely harsh and can have a long-term impact on your future.

Under New Jersey law, DWI consists of driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher. For commercial drivers, the BAC level must not exceed 0.04 percent, and for drivers under the age of 21, the BAC cannot be 0.01 percent or higher. It is important to note it is also illegal to get behind the wheel if any substance has impaired your ability to drive safely, whether it is drugs or alcohol.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 21 percent of children under 15 years old who were killed in motor vehicle accidents in 2003 were killed in alcohol-related crashes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that of the 1,132 traffic deaths among children ages 0 to 14 years in 2015, approximately 209 (16 percent) involved an alcohol-impaired driver.

A parent or guardian who is convicted of driving while intoxicated while having a minor passenger in the motor vehicle can also be guilty of a disorderly persons offense. A minor is defined as a person 17 years of age or younger. In order for the state to establish DWI with a minor in the car, it must demonstrate the following elements:  i) the defendant was operating a motor vehicle ii) while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, iii) with a minor in the car for whom he or she was legally responsible.

Under New Jersey Statute 39:4-50.15, a motorist convicted of a DWI with a minor in the car could face an additional six months of a license suspension. In addition to a longer potential driver’s license suspension, if convicted, the court can subject the defendant to the following:  additional monetary fines and surcharges, community service hours, and even jail time. In some cases, when an adult is charged with a minor in the car, the prosecutor may attempt to elevate the charge further to one of endangering the welfare of a child.

Lawmakers, like most parents, understand that minors are not always able to make decisions for themselves. This is why the consequences for adults who get behind the wheel while under the influence with a minor in the car are so severe. If you have been charged with a DWI with a minor in your vehicle, you need to speak to a seasoned New Jersey DWI attorney without delay. We are committed to protecting your rights and serving as your trusted legal advocate at every step of the way. To learn more, do not hesitate to contact us online or call us at 877-450-8301.

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