Underage DWI New Jersey

Best DWI defense lawyer near me for a first offense for dwi in Cherry Hill, Camden, Gloucester Township, Pennsauken, Gloucester City, Berlin, Bellmawr, Winslow or another Camden County municipality.

New Jersey has set the legal age for buying and drinking alcohol at 21. Coinciding with this law, it is illegal to drive with any detectable amount of alcohol in your blood in New Jersey if you are younger than 21 years old.

A licensed driver under 21 who is convicted of driving with as little as .01% blood alcohol concentration (BAC) can be penalized with a driver’s license suspension and community service. An underage driver in New Jersey whose BAC is .08% or more will be charged as an adult and face much harsher penalties.

Having an underage DUI conviction on your record can be a significant disadvantage when you are seeking employment and getting started with your adult life. Prospective employers, college officials and others will find the conviction in background checks.

If you or your child has been charged with underage DWI (also called DUI) or refusal to take a breathalyzer test, the defense lawyers at the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall can assist you.

When your future is at stake, you want the guidance of a New Jersey defense law firm with the following kinds of credentials:

  • More than 200 years of combined experience defending individuals from DWI / DUI offenses and other criminal charges in courtrooms across New Jersey
  • Attorneys certified in the operation of the Draeger Alcotest 7110 MKIIIC alcohol breath test instrument and Standardized Field Sobriety Testing used by law enforcement throughout New Jersey
  • Certified criminal trial attorneys, a distinction held by fewer than 2% of lawyers in New Jersey
  • A team of 10 former New Jersey prosecutors and public defenders, including former leaders of a Major Crimes Bureau, Domestic Violence Unit, Special Operations Unit, Guns Task Force and a Trial Division
  • A track record of dismissal of charges against our clients in countless trials our defense attorneys have handled
  • 24/7 availability to secure your release or your child’s release from custody and begin building a defense against the underage DUI charges.

The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall has a team of hand-selected defense attorneys with the experience and skills needed to keep a damaging DWI, DUI or “refusal” conviction off of a young person’s record.

If you or a loved one of yours faces underage drinking and driving charges, contact us now at (877) 450-8301 or online for a free initial legal consultation. If necessary, we can get your loved one released from custody.

What Qualifies as an Underage DWI in New Jersey

New Jersey law draws a distinction between an adult offender driving while intoxicated and charges filed under the state’s underage DWI charge (NJ Rev Stat § 39:4-50.14), which has been nicknamed “Baby DUI.” To be found guilty of an underage DUI, the offender must be under 21 years old and must have BAC of .01% or higher.

An underage DWI charge asserts that someone under 21 years old consumed alcohol and then operated a motor vehicle.

Upon conviction, the underage driver’s license will be suspended for at least 30 and up to 90 days, at the judge’s discretion. If the teenager does not have a license yet, he or she will be unable to get one for at least 30 and up to 90 days.

A person convicted of underage DWI in New Jersey must also:

  • Perform community service for at least 15 days and up to 30 days.
  • Attend an Intoxicated Driver Resource Center and complete 12 hours of classes and a substance use disorder assessment and pay associated fees.
  • Successfully complete alcoholism treatment if recommended by the IDRC assessment.

New Jersey DWI laws also apply to operating a boat after consuming alcohol. If you permit someone else who is intoxicated to operate a motor vehicle or boat you own, then you are also subject to the N.J. DWI law’s mandatory penalties.

However, an underage DWI conviction is not counted against the defendant if he or she faces subsequent DWI charges. A DWI charge filed after the individual turned 21 would be considered a first offense.

Teen Drivers May Face Adult DWI Penalties

An underage driver who registers a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or more while operating a motor vehicle or boat will be charged under New Jersey’s standard DWI law ( NJ Rev Stat § 39:4-50). Under this law, a BAC of 0.08% or more is considered evidence in itself of guilt.

Upon conviction, the penalties are based on the BAC recorded after the arrest. The following are first-offense penalties. Penalties grow harsher upon subsequent convictions. Penalties also increase if a DWI occurred in a school zone or school crossing.

0.08 to 0.09% BAC:

  • $250 to $400 fine
  • Up to 30 days in jail
  • 90 days driver’s license suspension
  • Attending Intoxicated Driver Resource Center for classes and substance use disorder assessment (and rehab if ordered by the assessment)
  • $1,000 annual surcharge penalty for 3 years.

0.10% BAC or more:

  • $300 to $500 fine
  • Up to 30 days in jail
  • 7 to 12 months driver’s license suspension
  • Attending Intoxicated Driver Resource Center for classes and substance use disorder assessment (and rehab if ordered by the assessment)
  • $1,000 annual surcharge penalty for 3 years.

0.15 percent BAC or more, the penalties above for 0.10% BAC plus:

  • 6 months to 1 year with an ignition interlock device on your vehicle – after license restoration.

A DWI conviction also requires paying:

  • $100 to the Drunk Driving Enforcement Fund
  • $100 to the Alcohol Education and Rehabilitation Fund
  • $230 fee to the Intoxicated Driving Resource Center
  • $100 license restoration fee
  • $75 to the Neighborhood Services Fund.

Refusing a DWI Breath Test

person drinking and driving

After being stopped on suspicion of drunk driving in New Jersey, a driver will be subjected to a Standardized Field Sobriety Test and almost always will be arrested. While in custody, he or she will be asked to take the Draeger Alcotest 7110 MKIIIC alcohol breath test instrument (sometimes called “Breathalyzer,” the brand name of a different instrument). If you cannot provide a proper breath sample, police have the right to take a blood or urine sample.

It is a mistake to refuse a breath test. Even on an underage DWI charge, you face penalties of:

  • $300 to $500 fine; $600 to $1,000 if arrested in a school zone
  • 7 to 12 months driver’s license suspension; 1 to 2 years if arrested in a school zone
  • 12 hours or more at an Intoxicated Driver Resource Center for classes and substance use disorder assessment (and rehab if ordered by the assessment)
  • 6 months to 1 year with an ignition interlock device on your vehicle – after license restoration
  • Fines and fees as for a first-offense DWI (above).

How Our New Jersey Underage DWI Lawyers Can Help

Anyone arrested for underage DWI has the right to a robust legal defense that seeks the best available outcome for the defendant. Unless you plead guilty, prosecutors have to prove the charges in court to gain a conviction. Underage DWI defendants are found not guilty in New Jersey every day.

The sooner the Law Offices of James F. Marshall can get involved in your case, the better the opportunity to challenge the charges. Our underage DUI defense attorneys have training in field sobriety testing and the use of the Draeger Alcotest instrument that is more extensive than most police officers’ training.

The Draeger Alcotest machine requires precise calibration and operation, plus maintenance between each use. Operators should be certified and should record each step to calibrate the instrument before each test. Additionally, it is easy to administer field sobriety tests improperly, and results are highly subjective.

Our DWI defense attorneys will aggressively challenge any deviation from protocol in use of field sobriety and/or breath testing. We can often identify mistakes police have made that allow us to have charges reduced or dismissed, or to effectively cross-examine police officers if the case goes to trial.

Initially, we will seek to establish:

  • Lack of probable cause or reasonable suspicion for the police to stop you
  • Lack of probable cause to accuse you of drinking
  • Failure by the arresting officer to advise you of your Miranda rights against self-incrimination
  • Improper administration and/or interpretation of field sobriety and breath testing
  • Improper inspection and certification of the Draeger Alcotest machine.

If a conviction is unavoidable, our criminal defense attorneys will seek to have the BAC measurement or blood or urine test results excluded or reduced, which will lead to a lesser charge (such as a traffic violation).

Our attorneys will ensure that the law is properly applied to your case and that all of your rights are protected. We fully understand the law and have relationships with prosecutors and judges in courtrooms across New Jersey that ensure our arguments on your behalf will be heard and considered.

Our firm spends the time and resources necessary to investigate and fully challenge underage DWI charges. We understand that young adults make mistakes, but a mistake should not cast a shadow on your future. We will work aggressively to help you keep an underage DWI charge from damaging your future prospects.

Meet with a N.J. Underage DUI Defense Attorney Today

If you or your loved one has been charged with underage DUI in New Jersey, it is important that you retain an experienced DUI / DWI defense lawyer right away. With proper legal representation, there are opportunities to challenge your arrest and/or the evidence against you.

Contact the Law Offices of Johnathan F. Marshall at (877) 450-8301 as soon as possible for a free initial consultation about an underage DWI charge. We have offices across New Jersey and can meet with you and assist you anywhere in the state.