What Are the Penalties for a DUI with a Child in the Car in New Jersey?

baby in car seat in backseat

Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a serious crime and can be penalized even more severely when there is a minor in the car. A DUI charge with a child present can have life-altering consequences. For assistance and representation during your case reach out to a skilled Bergen County, New Jersey DUI lawyer.

What Charges Will I Face for a DUI With a Child Passenger?

A person facing DUI charges in New Jersey will be met with some unpleasant realities. The penalties are harsh because of the severity of the danger that driving while under the influence poses on not only the driver but the community and any passengers. If you are charged with a DUI with a minor passenger in the vehicle, you can be given the following penalties and more.

  • Fines of $1,000 or more
  • Imprisonment in a county jail for up to 6 months
  • License suspension
  • Mandatory use of an ignition interlock device
  • Mandatory community service
  • Mandatory enrollment in an Intoxicated Driver Resource Center
  • Automobile surcharges of $1,000 for 3 years

These penalties are harsh as a way to punish the driver for not only driving while under the influence but also putting a child’s life at risk. If the prosecutor sees it fit you may also face charges for endangering the welfare of a child. This can range from a fourth-degree offense to a first-degree indictable crime and a permanent stain on any person’s criminal record. Consequences for a second-degree charge include:

  • Fines of up to $150,000
  • 5 to 10 years in state prison

Do I Need a Lawyer?

Yes, you should hire a lawyer when facing DUI charges or child endangerment charges. Statistics show that defendants who forgo professional legal counsel tend to face more extensive consequences than those who work with a skilled legal team.

The penalties for a DUI with a child passenger are severe and can be life-changing. If you are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law you could spend months in prison, go into debt over the associated fines, lose your job, and more. Whether you wish to fight your charges at trial or land a plea bargain that offers you a lesser sentence, hiring an attorney is your best option for accomplishing your goals.

Why Are Child Endangerment Penalties More Extensive than DUI Penalties?

As a parent, guardian, or adult in general, it is your duty to protect a child and give them safety and security. Children, especially when they are young, are unable to fend for themselves. They cannot find or afford food, water, or a place to stay on their own. It is up to the adults in their lives to ensure they are well cared for.

Children are learning and developing every day, growing into adulthood. Emotional or physical abuse, neglect, and trauma can have a serious impact on a child. Studies have shown that maltreatment in youth can lead to people developing low self-esteem, lack of trust, mental disorders, cognitive and language disorders, health problems, and more. The adverse effects of child endangerment contribute to the extensive penalties.

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