A driving while intoxicated (DWI) charge in New Jersey is serious when committed by anyone, as the act of driving drunk can result in severe injuries and even death. A DWI charge is even worse when committed by an underage youth who wasn't drinking legally in the first place. Not only is driving while intoxicated while under the age of 21 irresponsible and illegal, it can spur serious penalties ranging from loss of driving privileges or enrollment treatment programs to hefty fines and even incarceration.
Legal Limits for DWI
There are a different set of standards for an adult who is suspected of driving while intoxicated and an individual under 21-years-old who is suspected of driving while intoxicated. Because it's not legal for a youth to be drinking at all, the standards are far lower to charge the juvenile with DWI.
Generally, the blood alcohol content for a person over the age of 21 to be charged with DWI must be 0.08% or above. In New Jersey, if the driver is under age 21 and found to have a blood alcohol level of 0.01% to 0.08%, he or she can be charged with DWI. Considering how seriously law enforcement treats DWI and the already stringent rules placed on drivers under age 21 in New Jersey just to be allowed to drive at all, a juvenile caught driving with even the smallest amount of alcohol in their system is going to be charged with DWI.
Punishments for Underage DWI Depend on the Alcohol Level
If a juvenile is tested and found to have 0.01 percent or more in their blood but less than 0.08, he or she will have their driver's license revoked for 30 to 90 days beginning on the date they were convicted of the crime. If they are not yet of driving age, their license will be suspended beginning when they turn 17-years-old. In addition, they will have to perform community service for between 15 and 30 days. Also, an underage drinker convicted of drunk driving must enter what is known as the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center (IDRC) program and pay the fees for it. This does not include other charges that could exist depending on the circumstances, such as possessing alcohol underage, purchasing alcohol and having a fake identification in order to be allowed to purchase alcohol.
If an individual under 21 is charged with having a blood alcohol content (BAC) level above 0.08%, the license suspensions will be commensurate with the laws of New Jersey. If the youth is charged with DWI at age 16, then the license suspension will be ongoing from age 17 as per the judgment of the court. The offender might be forced to take part in what is known as a visitation program and have to go to emergency rooms, hospitals, rehabilitation programs and morgues to witness firsthand the consequences of driving while intoxicated as a means to prevent them from doing it again.
Contact an Attorney for a Charge of Underage DWI
Driving while intoxicated when under the legal age to drink alcohol is not only dangerous, illegal and irresponsible, but it can have far-reaching consequences. An underage DWI conviction can prevent someone from being able to enroll in the university of one's choosing or hurt the chances of getting a job. When a charge such as this occurs, the effects can be enormous if punished to the fullest extent of the law. The worst thing a juvenile can do is to fail to have a qualified attorney as representation in a DWI case.
The law firm of Villani & DeLuca in Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey can help if you or a loved one has been charged with DWI while underage. If the charges can be reduced or, in certain cases, thrown out entirely, it is important to have an attorney to explain all of your rights and do everything that can be done to reduce the charges as much as possible.
If you have been charged with an underage DWI or the related charges of underage alcohol possession, fake ID possession or underage drinking in a New Jersey town such as Toms River, Belmar, Long Branch, Asbury Park or anywhere else in Monmouth County or Ocean County, contact Villani & DeLuca to discuss your case.