DWI with a Minor Attorneys in Ocean County, NJ
Seasoned Defense Lawyers Advocating for Drivers Charged with DUI with a Child in the Vehicle in Toms River NJ
The decision to drive while under the influence of drugs and alcohol can be life altering for the driver, the driver’s family, and any injury victims involved. Those driving under the influence with a minor in the car may face increased criminal consequences for endangering the welfare of a child, as well as additional collateral consequences to their actions. If you are facing charges following a DWI with a minor in your vehicle, it is imperative that you consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney. These charges can result in a devastating impact to you legally, financially, professionally, and, potentially, as a parent.
The following will provide an overview of the legal penalties associated with driving while under the influence with a minor in the vehicle, how a conviction can negatively affect your child custody arrangement, whether these convictions can be expunged from your record, and how an experienced New Jersey criminal defense lawyer at Bronzino Law Firm can help to exonerate you of these charges and help you to avoid a conviction in the first place.
If you or someone closely related faces a charge of DWI while a minor is present in the car, endangering the welfare of a child under the basis of DWI, or both in New Jersey, it’s critical to retain an experienced New Jersey defense law firm that can protect for your rights today and your future consequences. Our founder attorney Peter J. Bronzino Esq., has the required experience and commitment to work tirelessly on your case.
Call (732) 812-3102 or contact us online today to schedule a free consultation about your case. We serve clients in Jackson, Long Branch, Lavallette, Red Bank, Belmar, Lakewood, Toms River, Point Pleasant, Brick, Freehold, Middletown, and elsewhere in Ocean County and Monmouth County.
Potential Charges for DWI with a Minor in New Jersey
In the state of New Jersey, an individual who drives while intoxicated (DWI/DUI) with a minor child in their vehicle at the time of the act, may potentially face three separate charges. First, the individual may be charged with driving while intoxicated under N.J.S.A. 39:4-50. If a minor child was in the vehicle while the driver was operating the vehicle under the influence of alcohol and drugs, in violation of NJ law, then the driver may face a separate disorderly persons charge under N.J.S.A. 39:4-50.15. Finally, these actions may also give rise to a charge for Endangering the Welfare of a Child, which is an indictable offense.
If convicted, the penalties for each of these offenses can be severe. Specific sentencing penalties for a DWI conviction in New Jersey depend on whether it is your first, second, or subsequent offense and the level of your blood alcohol content (BAC). If you are a first-time DWI offender, you may face imprisonment of up to 30 days in the county jail, fines between $250 to $400, having an ignition interlock device installed on your vehicle for 3 to 15 months, license revocation for up to 3 months, and court-ordered participation in a 2-day intoxicated driver program.
If you are a first time offender, but your BAC was between 0.10% and 0.15%, these penalties can be increased to the installation of an ignition interlock device for 7 months to a year, fines of up to $500, and license revocation for 4 to 6 months. Subsequent offenses carry higher fines and longer jail time. If you are convicted of DWI in New Jersey for the second time, you may be ordered to pay fines between $500 to $1,000, have an ignition interlock device for 2 to 4 years, and serve jail time for up to 90 days, with a minimum mandatory jail sentence of 48 consecutive hours.
Penalties for a third offense are even greater, including imprisonment of up to 180 days, fines of $1,000, potential court-ordered inpatient treatment, and suspension of your driver’s license for up to 8 years. Now, if a minor was in the vehicle with you when you were driving while intoxicated, you may also be charged with a separate disorderly persons offense and face penalties for that charge of losing your driver’s license for up to six months and being ordered to serve up to 5 days of community service.
Furthermore, if you are charged with and convicted of Endangering the Welfare of a Child, which is a second degree indictable offense, you may face prison time of 5 to 10 years.
What Does It Mean to Endanger Child Welfare by Driving under the Influence with a Minor Present in New Jersey?
A person may be charged and convicted of Endangering the Welfare of a Child in NJ if they had a legal duty or assumed responsibility to care for a child and either engage in sexual conduct that harms or impairs the morals of a child or they harm a child in a way that makes the child abused or neglected. It is important to note that for purposes of New Jersey’s DWI law under N.J.S.A. 39:4-50.15, a minor is defined as a person under the age of 18, whereas the minor must be 16 years of age or younger in order for an Endangering the Welfare of a Child charge to apply.
So, if you commit a DWI offense with a child who is 16 years of age or younger in the vehicle, you may be charged with this offense. This is true whether or not you are the parent of the child in the vehicle. Furthermore, even if you are not the driver, if you knowingly allow a person who is under the influence of alcohol or drugs to operate a vehicle with your child in it, you may also face criminal charges for Endangering the Welfare of a Child.
The Collateral and Long Term Consequences of DWI with a Child in the Car in NJ
Beyond the legal consequences of a DWI and related charges, driving while intoxicated with a minor can have many negative consequences to the minor themselves, your reputation, future job opportunities, and also child custody agreements. If you are convicted of Endangering the Welfare of a Child, an indictable offense, this may have serious consequences to your personal and professional reputation. This will also go on your criminal record and may negatively impact your ability to obtain certain jobs in the future.
DWI with a Minor and Its Negative Effects on Child Custody Issues
If an individual is charged with DWI with a minor in the vehicle and the driver is an unmarried parent of the child, separated from the child’s other parent, or if they later become involved in a child custody dispute, the incident could negatively impact their ability to obtain or maintain sole or joint physical custody of their child. It is important to note that the child in the vehicle at the time of the DWI offense need not be the child of the driver in order for the incident to have a negative consequence to a custody dispute involving the driver but regarding a different child.
Child custody determinations are made on the basis of the best interests of the child and a child’s physical safety and wellbeing is paramount in this determination. The lack of judgment and even recklessness demonstrated by convictions or even charges related to a DWI with a minor will generally weigh against the driver in a child custody proceeding and could even lead to the driver losing custody of his or her child if the family court determines it is in the child’s best interests.
Is Expungement an Option for DWI with Minor-Related Charges in NJ?
Expungement is a legal process through which a criminal conviction can, essentially, be erased from an individual’s criminal record. However, in New Jersey, neither a DWI conviction nor a conviction relating to the abuse or neglect of a child (including Endangering the Welfare of a Child) may be expunged. As a result of the grave consequences DWI with a minor related convictions can have on your liberty, reputation, and child custody arrangements, it is critical that you mount as powerful and effective a defense as possible to fight these charges before being convicted. Since neither a DWI conviction nor a Endangering the Welfare of a Child conviction can be expunged in New Jersey, you can only avoid the long term consequences of these potential convictions by avoiding the convictions in the first place.
Contact our Brick DWI with a Minor Defense Attorneys if You are Facing Driving Under the Influence With a Child Charges in South Jersey
If you have been charged with a DWI with a minor in the vehicle, do not wait a day longer before retaining an experienced and aggressive defense attorney. Your defense strategy must be tailored to the unique facts of your case, but may involve your criminal defense lawyer challenging whether the officer who stopped your vehicle had probable cause to do so. If they lacked probable cause for the stop, then the prosecution may not be able to secure a conviction for the charges that resulted from that illegal stop. At Bronzino Law Firm, our lawyers handle all aspects of these cases, including defense for the DWI with a child charge, any additional criminal charges that may arise in this scenario, and child custody proceedings you may face based on the accusations.
With local offices in Brick and Sea Girt, our defense attorneys are ready to take on the family law and criminal cases that may result from your DUI while under the influence allegations in Berkeley, Lakewood, Manalapan, Manchester, Sea Bright, Lacey, Manasquan, Sea Bright, Ocean Township, Mantoloking, and other Ocean and Monmouth County areas. For a complimentary review of your case, contact our office today by calling (732) 812-3102 or using our online contact form.