Even when there are no aggravating circumstances, being charged with DWI is a very serious matter, and a conviction could impact your career, relationships, and financial security. But when circumstances exist that aggravate or enhance DWI charges, the penalties can be much more severe.
One such scenario is being charged with DWI with a minor in your vehicle. Pursuant to NJSA 39:4-50.15, you will face additional criminal penalties if you are arrested for DWI with a passenger who is 17 years old or younger. This is considered a disorderly persons offense. In addition to the penalties you would face for a DWI conviction, you will face a driver’s license suspension for up to six months and you will be ordered to complete up to five days of community service. You will also face a fine of up to $1,000 and up to six months in jail.
Sometimes DWI involving a minor passenger is charged as endangering the welfare of a child. To face this charge, the passenger would have to be under the age of 16, and your actions must have put the child in jeopardy and constituted abuse or neglect. This crime can be charged as a second or third degree offense. If convicted, you could face a fine of up to $150,000 and up to 10 years in prison.
If you are facing charges for DWI involving a minor passenger, contact my office to discuss your defense options. As a former Assistant Prosecutor, I have a unique skillset that makes me particularly effective as a DWI attorney in Elizabeth. Call 973-453-2009 to schedule a free consultation at the Law Office of Eric M. Mark.
What Must the Prosecutor Prove to Win a Conviction?
If you are facing DWI charges involving a minor in your vehicle, the prosecutor has the burden of proving multiple charges. The prosecutor must show that you were in control of the vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and that there was a minor for whom you were legally responsible in your vehicle.
There are several potential defenses that apply to these charges. Most successful defenses in DWI cases are based on procedural errors made by police before, during, or after the arrest. If your criminal defense lawyer can prove that the police made a procedural error, then certain evidence against you may be thrown out.
For example, if the officer stopped your vehicle without probable cause to believe that you had committed a crime or that you were in the process of committing a crime, any evidence gathered after the stop—including your breathalyzer test results and the results of field sobriety tests—will be inadmissible in court. Other common procedural errors include:
- The officer did not wait the required 20 minutes before administering the breathalyzer;
- The officer did not administer the breathalyzer or field sobriety tests correctly; or
- Your blood tests were mishandled because protocols were not followed when drawing, transporting, or storing the sample.
If you are facing DWI charges in New Jersey, call my office today to discuss your defense options. Call 973-453-2009 to schedule a free consultation with a DWI attorney in Elizabeth.