Assault by auto is an extremely serious charge that can be even worse if you were under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If convicted, you could lose your job, not to mention jeopardizing your personal reputation. If you have been arrested for a DWI, you need to reach out to a skilled New Jersey DWI attorney who can help. We have extensive experience in defending DWIs and criminal charges, and we can apply our knowledge to your case.
Under New Jersey law, an individual is considered to be driving while intoxicated (DWI) when he or she is found to have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher. It is important to note that you can also be charged with a DWI if you are operating a motor vehicle under the influence of any drugs (illegal, over-the-counter, or prescription) that impair your ability to drive safely. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 10,000 Americans die in drunk driving accidents each year. In addition, nearly 200 of these deaths occur in New Jersey.
The law in New Jersey contains a specific provision that addresses assaults involving automobiles. When someone other than the accused drunk driver suffers injuries as a result of an accident caused by a DWI, the police may file a separate charge known as assault by auto. Unlike a DWI charge in New Jersey, which is a traffic violation instead of a criminal charge, assault by auto is a criminal charge. Assault by auto occurs if a person drives a vehicle recklessly and causes a bodily injury to another person. Bodily injury is defined as physical pain, illness, or any impairment of physical condition, and a serious bodily injury is a bodily injury that creates a substantial risk of death or serious, permanent disfigurement, or the protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.
Assault by auto is a serious crime. The level of crime increases if the defendant is driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Thus, if someone violates the DWI statute while committing assault by auto, and a serious bodily injury takes place, the crime is elevated to a third-degree offense, punishable by up to five years in prison. If a bodily injury takes place while driving drunk, the crime is of the fourth degree, which can carry up to 18 months in prison. Penalties are increased if the accident takes place in a school zone.
If you have been charged with a DWI and assault by auto, this does not mean you are automatically guilty. The burden of proof in every DWI case is on the state to prove each element of the crime “beyond a reasonable doubt” – the highest standard in the legal system. We can challenge the state’s evidence and raise all possible defenses in your case.
The consequences of a DWI conviction can be severe and lasting. If you need advice and guidance after being charged with assault by auto and related DWI/DUI charges, you need to reach out to our seasoned New Jersey DWI attorneys. With years of experience, we can help you navigate the complexities of this area of law and help protect your rights throughout this stressful process. To have your questions answered, feel free to call us at 877-450-8301 or reach out to us online.
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