Not too long ago, we featured a blog on the topic of allowing a friend or family member to operate your car while their driver's license is suspended. As I'm sure you'd expect, the penalties for letting someone drive your car drunk come at an even higher cost.
New Jersey's DWI laws are some of the strictest in the nation, holding you liable for any consequences that arise out of letting someone drive your car drunk or under the influence of drugs. The NJ driving while intoxicated statute states in part that anyone who “…permits another person who is under the influence of intoxicating liquor, narcotic, hallucinogenic or habit-producing drug to operate a motor vehicle owned by him or in his custody or control or permits another to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or more by weight of alcohol in the defendant's blood…” shall be subject to the penalties set forth in the same statute.
If you allow someone to drive your car drunk, you are knowingly putting a drunk driver out on the road, thereby putting society at the same risk as if you were to drive drunk yourself. Therefore, you can be convicted of a DWI even if you were not the actual driver of your vehicle.
For example, if you were at a bar and had too much to drink, you may ask one of your friends to drive you back home. This is normally a good idea, except in the case where the friend has been drinking with you. If you are pulled over on the way home and your friend is found to have a BAC (blood alcohol concentration) of 0.08% or more, you may be charged with a DWI since you knowingly allowed him to operate your car after consuming alcohol. It's in your best interest not to let anyone drive your car if they have recently consumed alcoholic beverages.
Consequences for Letting Someone Drive Your Car Drunk
If you are convicted of a DWI as a result of letting someone drive your car drunk, you face all the same penalties as you would under a standard DWI conviction. Even for a first-time offense, you will have your license suspended for a period of 3 months to one year, and face a possible jail sentence of up to 30 days. You will also have to pay thousands of dollars in fines, participate in an Intoxicated Driver Resource Center (IDRC) program, and have an ignition interlock device installed in your car if the other person's BAC was 0.15% or greater.
Furthermore, if you have a previous DWI conviction, this would count as a subsequent conviction. If you are convicted of a second DWI within 10 years of the first conviction, you will automatically lose your license for two years, and may be sentenced to 30 days of community service, and 48 hours to 90 days in jail. If you are mandated to have an ignition interlock device installed, it will need to be installed during your entire suspension period, plus up to three years following the restoration of your license. A third offense DWI carries extremely harsh penalties, including a mandatory license suspension of 10 years, 90 days of community service and up to 180 days in jail. In addition to these penalties, DWI convictions result in a high number of insurance eligibility points. Although these are not the same as the points that are added to your license, they label you as a high risk driver for insurance purposes, doubling or tripling your insurance rate on average.
Charged with DWI After Letting Someone Drive Your Car Drunk?
If you have been charged with a DWI from letting someone drive your car drunk, you must speak to an experienced DWI lawyer right away. Partner Carmine R. Villani, Esq. of Villani & DeLuca has over two decades of experience in both the prosecution and defense of DWI cases. He can give you the effective legal representation you need to fight your charges and protect your future. Please call (732) 709-7757 to schedule a free consultation with Mr. Villani today!