Being stopped by a police officer as a teenage driver can be a harrowing experience. And while inexperienced drivers can be expected to make a driving error from time to time, doing so while being drunk can mean big troubles now and in the future. Not only is underage DWI a chargeable offense in the Garden State, simply drinking or even possessing alcohol as a teenager or underage adult is grounds for an arrest.
As New Jersey DWI defense attorneys, we understand that an underage DWI, DUI or breath-test refusal is no way to begin one’s foray into adulthood. As we have said on numerous other occasions, being charged with driving under the influence of alcohol or prescription medication (drug DUI) is a serious enough offense without compounding it by being a teen. Parents take note, since most youngsters do not always realize the potentially injurious nature that a DWI conviction can mean to one in the future.
Without a doubt, it is always safer to consult with a qualified DWI lawyer to best understand the impact that any drunken driving conviction can have; in many respects, an underage DWI, DUI or refusal conviction can have even a greater impact than if the defendant was of age and caught for drunken driving for the first time. Suffice it to say that a conviction for DWI is just no way to start out one’s adult life.
It may be instructive to remind readers that New Jersey law pertaining to underage drinking and driving, drug DUI and breath-test refusal is covered in N.J.S.A. 39:4-50.14. Reading through the statutes, one can easily come away with the understanding that the police and the courts have a zero-tolerance policy in regard to underage DWI/DUI. In plain English, it is strictly illegal for anyone under the age of 21 years old to have ANY beer, wine or other alcoholic beverage in their system while driving a passenger car, truck, motorcycle or other motor vehicle.
Despite strict monetary penalties following an underage DWI conviction, apparently not all New Jersey teens have gotten the message. According to news reports, a teenager from Montville, NJ, was arrested for drunken driving not long ago by officers from the Parsippany-Troy Hills PD. The incident reportedly took place in the earlier morning hours on a Wednesday, when the 19-year-old man was observed making an illegal illegal U-turn on Rte 46 in Morris County.
Based on police reports, the officer in charge pulled the teen over for the traffic infraction near S. Beverwyck Rd. During the routine traffic stop, the patrolman checked the driver was apparently asked to perform a standard field sobriety test. While undergoing the sobriety test, the teen reportedly dropped something on the ground, which the officer stated appeared to be a second, and alleged falsified, New Jersey driver’s license.
The ID card reportedly showed the man’s name and photo, but with a different address and birth date — one that would have placed the man above the legal age to purchase alcohol in the Garden State. The officer arrested the teenager, who subsequently was charged with DWI and reckless driving, as well as possessing a falsified driver’s license.
Montville Teen Faces DWI, Fake ID Charges, Patch.com, January 5, 2012