New Jersey Driver Charged with Underage DWI After Falling Asleep at Traffic Light

If you have been charged with underage DWI in New Jersey, you need a seasoned New Jersey DWI attorney on your side. Drinking and driving is always a bad idea, regardless of your age. However, when underage drivers are charged or convicted of a DWI, it can have far-reaching consequences for their lives. Beyond the traditional penalties, such as fines and license suspension, a DWI conviction could affect your college, employment, and housing applications. Thus, a DWI charge should never be taken lightly. You can trust that we will help build a strong defense in your case.

Earlier this week, a Franklin man was arrested for drunk driving after he was found asleep behind the wheel at a traffic light. The man, just 20 years old, was charged with underage driving while intoxicated, careless driving, failure to keep right, delaying traffic, and failure to observe traffic signal.

Police responded to a report that a motorist was asleep at the light. When an officer arrived at the scene, he noticed that the driver was asleep with his foot still on the brake pedal. The police officer proceeded to wake the driver up, engaged in conversation with him, and determined he was showing signs of intoxication. The man then failed a field sobriety test and was charged.

In New Jersey, a person drives while intoxicated (DWI) if he or she operates a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent or higher. It is important to note, however, that the drinking age in New Jersey is 21, which means consumption of alcohol by anyone below this age is illegal. As a result, the DWI threshold for underage drivers is also lower. New Jersey is a zero tolerance state. If a driver under the age of 21 has a blood alcohol content of 0.01 percent or higher, the driver can be cited for a DWI.

While the state’s DWI statute specifically covers anyone who “operates” a motor vehicle while intoxicated, the law does not define in any detail what it means to operate a vehicle. State courts have interpreted the term broadly, which is why the location of the driver and specific circumstances (i.e., the location of the key) often come into play when determining if someone was “operating” a motor vehicle. Here, the underage driver was behind the wheel, his foot was on the brake, and the keys were in the ignition. He certainly fell within the New Jersey statute.

Penalties for underage drinking and driving can be harsh, including the loss or postponement of driving privileges for 30 to 90 days, 15 to 30 days of community service, participation in alcohol and traffic safety education programs, and the payment of hefty fines. The penalties get harsher if it is a second, third, or subsequent DWI.

Always remember that just because you have been charged with a DWI does not mean you are guilty. In every DWI case, the burden of proof is on the state to establish every element of the offense “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Our job is to investigate your case and help create that doubt for jurors.

If you have been arrested or charged for underage DWI, you need a seasoned New Jersey DWI attorney on your side. Whether it is your first DWI offense or a subsequent one, a refusal to submit charge, or any other DWI-related issue, having the right lawyer protecting your rights can make all of the difference in your case. With years of experience, we are well versed in this area of law and can apply our knowledge to your case. For more information about your legal rights and options, call us at 877-450-8301 or contact us through our website without delay.

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