Underage Drunk Driving Arrest In NJ – Charged with DWI Underage NJ
New Jersey has a Zero Tolerance Law when it Comes to Underage Drinking and Driving
Though parents, schools, and community organizations warn minors and young adults about underage drinking, too often, teens and young adults do not heed the warnings. They may believe everyone does it, so it could not be too bad if they get caught. And if drinking with their parents at home, they are not in danger of getting arrested for illegal drinking, so the laws may be confusing to a young person. But when an underage drinker is arrested for drunk driving, the consequences are unimaginable to a young person who thought they were just out having a good time and could get away with driving while intoxicated.
What is the BAC limit for individuals under 21 years of age in New Jersey?
For drivers under 21, a DWI is much easier to get than a DWI for drivers over 21, as it only takes registering a .01% blood alcohol concentration (BAC) on the breathalyzer for an underage drinker and driver to be considered drunk driving. For drivers over 21, a BAC of .08% is considered driving while intoxicated.
Both the minor and adult DUI defendant will face a municipal court judge since DWI offenses are traffic violations, not criminal matters. Before heading to court, protect your interests find out what a seasoned DWI attorney has to say about your child’s case. Call the team at The Tormey Law Firm now at (201)-556-1570 or contact us online for a free consultation.
What is the penalty for DUI for a Person Underage in New Jersey?
If the arrested driver is under 21, the penalties for a DWI are different from a driver who is 21 years old or older.
The penalties for an underage DUI driver are:
- 30-to-90-day license suspension (starting from the time the driver gets one if they have not yet gotten their license yet)
- Community service for 15 days to up to 30 days
- Intoxicated Driver Resource Center for educational classes on alcohol and traffic safety for 12 to 48 hours, as well as a review for drug or alcohol treatment.
If the underage driver’s BAC is over .08%, they can be sentenced like an adult.
In other words, if an underage person drives with a BAC that is above .08%, they can be tried as an adult and the penalties for a DWI for those over 21 apply. So, their sentence may include installing an Ignition Interlock device on the car they drive, so that they cannot drive drunk. They may also be fined hundreds of dollars, spend additional time at an Intoxicated Driver Resource Center, and pay annual insurance surcharges.
Additionally, a separate charge of child endangerment for a DWI or providing minors with alcohol may be filed against the driver if other minors were in the car drinking or intoxicated. And drug possession may be an additional charge if found on the driver’s person or in the vehicle. Worse yet, they can face difficulties getting insurance in the future or pay high premiums for several years after the conviction.
The law is complicated in New Jersey, so you should get good legal advice if your child has been charged with an underage DWI and any collateral criminal or traffic charges.
At The Tormey Law Firm, our attorneys are experienced in handling DUI cases in municipal courts across the state of New Jersey. We can examine your child’s case to make sure no laws were broken in arresting your child or gathering evidence against them. As to a DWI of any kind, there are highly effective defenses that can be used to fight the charges.
For instance, breathalyzers are machines. They need to be serviced, calibrated, and properly operated. Often, our DWI defense lawyers can raise questions about the servicing of the machine and its proper functioning. We can thoroughly investigate the steps followed by the officer and their performance of the breathalyzer test, possibly casting doubt on the results that led to the charges.
And if an officer ordered the underage driver to take field sobriety tests, those results too can be challenged for improprieties if there are any existing that we can find. Conditions of the field sobriety tests may have been stacked against the accused, with poor lighting and uneven ground. Likewise, one type of field sobriety test tracks eye movement of a driver who is ordered to follow an object with their eyes. Your child’s medical conditions or medications may also affect a field sobriety test based on balancing and eye movement. For example, those diagnosed with bipolar disorder who take antipsychotics may have erratic eye movement that could be mistaken for drunkenness.