Underage DWI Penalties in New Jersey

Driving while intoxicated (DWI) is a serious offense in New Jersey, regardless of whether the driver is of age or underage. If you or your underage child has been arrested or charged with a DWI, you should speak to a seasoned New Jersey DWI attorney who is well versed in this area of law. You can rest assured that we can examine the facts of your case and determine a defense strategy accordingly. The stakes are high in these cases, so it is important to act quickly.

Under New Jersey law, the basic offense of a DWI consists of driving with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher. If you are under the age of 21, the state only needs to show that your BAC was above 0.01 percent in order to convict you of an “underage DWI.” New Jersey has a zero tolerance policy for drinking and driving. As a result, the penalties for underage DWI are severe and typically include the loss of driving privileges for 30 to 90 days, community service for 15 to 30 days, mandatory fines and penalties, and participation in an alcohol and traffic safety education program.

If you are under the age of 21, and your BAC exceeds 0.08 percent, you will likely be charged with a DWI as an adult and subject to regular New Jersey DWI penalties. If you do not have a driver’s license and are under the age of 17 at the time of the incident, you will be subject to a 30- to 90-day delay in processing your driver’s license.

Since underage drinking is illegal, an underage driver may face additional charges, including:

  • Possessing or consuming alcohol in a motor vehicle;
  • Distributing alcohol to minors if passengers are intoxicated and underage; or
  • Child endangerment if a passenger is 17 years old or younger.

The burden of proof in a New Jersey underage case is on the state. Under New Jersey law, the prosecution must establish the following three elements:  i) the defendant operated a motor vehicle (typically established by presenting the defendant’s driver’s license, which states his or her date of birth); ii) the defendant was under the legal age to purchase alcohol at the time of the operation; and iii) the defendant’s BAC was at least 0.01 percent or higher (typically established through the results of a breathalyzer test or blood sample).

There are many possible defenses for an underage DWI cases in New Jersey. One such defense is the low threshold of 0.01 percent BAC. Many different types of substances can cause a breath test to register a low BAC reading. An experienced DWI attorney can help you figure out which defenses may be applicable in your situation after scrutinizing the facts of your case.

DWI charges should not be taken lightly. A DWI conviction can have serious and long-term adverse consequences for your personal and professional life. If you or your underage child has been charged with a DWI, it is important to consult a skilled New Jersey DWI attorney who can help you understand your rights. With years of experience, we know how to build a strong defense and effectively advocate for your rights at every step of the way. To learn more about how we can help, call us at 877-450-8301 or contact us online.

More Blog Posts:

A Closer Look at Field Sobriety Tests in New Jersey

A Basic Overview of Possible DWI Defenses in New Jersey

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