What Happens When Your Child Has Been Arrested for Drunk Driving?
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Whether you are an adult or a juvenile, an arrest for driving while intoxicated (“DWI”) can be a frightening experience. The process for those charged with DWI is the same for adults and juveniles.
New Jersey defines DWI as any driving of a motor vehicle or boat with a blood alcohol concentration (“BAC”) of 0.08% or more. However, juveniles are subject to additional offenses and penalties if they are caught drinking and driving.
Juveniles and adults under the age of 21 cannot have any alcohol in their system when they are driving. If a juvenile is stopped because he is suspected of being intoxicated while driving and the Breathalyzer test indicates any alcohol in the system, that juvenile will be charged with DWI. (N.J.S.A. § 39:4-50.14) This offense is generally referred to as a “Baby DWI.” A juvenile who has a BAC over 0.08% can also be charged with DWI. (N.J.S.A. § 39:4-50)
When a juvenile is convicted of just a “Baby DWI,” the consequences are harsh. First, the juvenile’s license will be suspended for no less than one month, but no more than three months. Juveniles convicted of “Baby DWI” also have to complete an alcohol education course. Finally, the underage drunken driver must perform between 15 and 30 days of community service. However, this DWI does not count as the person’s first DWI as long as their BAC was not higher than 0.08%, which is required for conviction pursuant to N.J.S.A. § 39:4-50.
The consequences of DWI conviction in New Jersey are also severe. For example, the first conviction for DWI could result in a loss of license for anywhere from three (3) months to a year. Those found guilty of DWI also face a fine of up to $500 as well as possible imprisonment. Furthermore, New Jersey assesses a surcharge of $1,000 per year for three (3) years. Subsequent convictions carrier harsher punishments, which include larger fines, longer suspension periods, and potentially jail time. These punishments are the same regardless of if you are an adult or juvenile convicted of DWI charges. If the underage driver falls into this form of DWI, they can be charged with both offenses and subject to multiple penalties.
Failure to pay the surcharge may result in: an indefinite suspension of driving privileges; and action filed in State Superior Court by MVC which may result in securing a lien against your property, garnishing your wages or other similar action. If one is convicted of a repeat offense, the penalties become even more severe: a second conviction within 10 years of the first can result in a 2 year loss of license and a third conviction within 10 years of the second can result in loss of license for 10 years.
The process for adjudicating DWI’s is identical for adults and juveniles, as well. Usually, juvenile matters are handled at the Family Court level. However, motor vehicle offenses are generally handled at the municipal court level. DWI matters are considered traffic violations. Therefore, a juvenile or adult arrested for DWI will have their case handled by the Municipal Court of that city or town where the offense occurred.
If your son or daughter was charged with DWI or “Baby DWI” it is important to consult a juvenile defense attorney. The penalties for DWI or “Baby DWI” are severe. The law firm of Bramnick, Rodriguez, Grabas, Arnold & Mangan, LLC has lawyers who specialize in juvenile criminal defense law. Attorneys Casey Woodruff, Gary Grabas, and Robert Rowbotham, II are all former prosecutors. Jon Bramnick is a Certified Civil Trial Lawyer with over 30 years of trial experience.
Our juvenile criminal defense team regularly represents juvenile and minors charged with drunken driving offenses. We are available 24 hours a day at 908-322-7000. Schedule your initial consultation, it’s always free.