In the state of NJ, drinking and driving is not considered a misdemeanor, crime or a felony. Unlike many other states, including New York, a DUI in New Jersey is a traffic violation – but a serious one. This is why DUI defendants do not have a right to a jury trial in NJ. But the answer to the question, “ Is a DUI a felony or crime in New Jersey,” isn't always so simple. Under certain circumstances, a DUI can elevate to a felony/crime depending on the situation. New Jersey does not use the word “felony”, instead classifies offenses as first, second, third or fourth degree crimes, disorderly persons offenses, and petty disorderly persons offenses.
When is a DUI Considered a Crime?
Depending on the facts and circumstances of a particular case, a driver involved in a drunk driving accident may be charged with a crime. Some facts which could give rise to a crime being charged are driving with a child in the car, causing bodily injury to another individual during the accident, driving with a suspended license, or causing a death related to a drunk driving accident.
Assault by Auto N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1C
If someone is hurt in a DUI accident, the driver could be charged with a crime. Whenever a person drives recklessly and causes bodily injury to someone else while under the influence, they can be charged with assault by auto. Bodily injury is defined as physical pain, illness or any impairment of physical condition, whereas serious bodily injury is bodily injury which creates a substantial risk of death or serious, permanent disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.
Assault by auto is a type of aggravated assault assault and can either be a disorderly persons offense or a crime depending on the seriousness of the injuries caused by the driver.
Conviction for Assault by Automobile in NJ
According to NJ Statute: 2C: 12-1C, assault by auto or vessel is a crime of the fourth degree if serious bodily injury results and is a disorderly persons offense if bodily injury results. Depending on additional circumstances, the crime can be escalated to the third or second degree crime.
However, in order to obtain a conviction for assault by auto in New Jersey, the State must prove three main elements including:
- The defendant was driving a vehicle (or vessel),
- The defendant caused bodily injury or serious bodily injury to the victim, and
- The defendant caused such injury by driving the vehicle recklessly
DWI and DUI Lawyers on Your Side
Penalties for DUI and crimes resulting from a DUI are becoming stricter which is why it's important to have an aggressive DUI defense lawyer on your side if you or a loved one has been accused of injuring or killing someone while drunk. Call us today at 732-709-7757 for a free initial consultation. We represent clients facing criminal charges throughout Ocean County and Monmouth County New Jersey.