In this recently published blog, I discussed the legal consequences for underage drinking in New Jersey. Not only is underage drinking rampant in New Jersey but also underage drinking and driving. Regardless of the age of the driver, driving under the influence is a significant legal offense.
In New Jersey, a person is guilty of DWI if he or she operates a motor vehicle with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (“BAC”) of 0.08% or greater. However, if you are under the legal drinking age of 21, a different law governs. Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 39:4-50.14, which is often called the “Baby DWI” statute, if you are under the age of 21 and convicted of operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of .01% or more, but less than .08%, the following penalties apply:
- 30 to 90 day driver’s license suspension or postponement;
- 15 to 30 hours of community service; and
- Participation in an alcohol education and highway safety program and fee requirements as part of New Jersey’s Intoxicated Driver Resource Center
In addition to being charged with DWI, an underage drinker may also be charged with underage possession or consumption of alcohol in a motor vehicle, which is a disorderly persons offense in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:33-15.
If you are under the age of 21 and your BAC is .08% or higher, the Baby DWI statute, N.J.S.A. 39:4-50.14, no longer applies and you will most likely be charged as an adult and subject to the same legal consequences of the normal, “adult” New Jersey DWI statutory penalties. New Jersey’s DWI laws have a multi-tiered penalty structure depending on your BAC level and whether you have been previously convicted of a DWI.
An underage DWI conviction can also have other serious consequences that may significantly affect a young adult’s future. This conviction will appear on a young adult’s criminal record; accordingly, it may prevent a young adult from various educational and professional opportunities. In addition, since insurance companies consider it high risk to insure a driver convicted of an underage DWI, the insurer may cancel the driver’s insurance policy or significantly raise monthly premiums for years following the conviction.
If you or your child has been charged with underage DWI, I urge you to strongly consider your options for legal representation and consult with an experienced New Jersey DWI and criminal defense attorney who can help you navigate the legal process.
I have extensive experience defending DWI charges, as well as other criminal and traffic related matters in the New Jersey court system. The stakes are too high to fight a DWI charge on your own—contact the Law Office of Eric M. Mark to discuss your situation.
Call 973-453-2009 to schedule your free consultation with a criminal defense and DWI attorney in Elizabeth, NJ.