If you were pulled over by law enforcement for allegedly Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) with a minor child in the vehicle, the Tormey Law Firm LLC can help you fight the charges and avoid the most severe penalties.
These cases are often very complicated because the defendant may be subject to traffic citations, criminal charges for child endangerment, and even a DCP&P investigation for child neglect. Moreover, the traffic violations could potentially result in your driver’s license being suspended, while the criminal charges could lead to a permanent felony charge on your record and a lengthy term of incarceration. Beyond that, any kind of intervention by the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (“DCP&P) could lead to you losing custody of your child – especially if investigators substantiate or establish a finding of child abuse.
Beating DWI/DUI Charges in Morris County, NJ
The Tormey Law Firm can help you fight DWI charges in Morris County and anywhere else in New Jersey. With decades of combined legal experience, our defense team includes attorneys who understand the nuances of NJ DUI laws and who can win your case in criminal court and family court, if necessary. We have experience on both sides of the courtroom. In fact, the DWI defense team at the Tormey Law Firm includes:
- A certified Alcotest instructor.
- A certified field sobriety test instructor.
- A former Assistant Prosecutor who prosecuted child endangerment and child abuse cases.
- A former Deputy Attorney General who represented DCP&P and prosecuted child abuse and child neglect cases.
When you hire the Tormey Law Firm to fight on your behalf, you are getting decades of combined experience from attorneys who know what it takes to defend you against allegations of driving while intoxicated with a child in the car.
New Jersey DWI with a Child Passenger: Charges and Penalties
Under NJ traffic laws, a motorist commits a traffic offense of DWI/DUI, pursuant to R.S. 39:4-50(a), when they operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor, narcotic, hallucinogenic or habit-producing drug, or operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or more.
The penalties for DWI in New Jersey depend on whether the offender has any prior convictions for Driving While Intoxicated or Driving Under the Influence. In all circumstances, a new conviction for DWI can result in mandatory fines, mandatory suspension of your driver’s license, and the potential for jail time. These penalties can be enhanced if a minor was in the car at the time of the DWI offense. Pursuant to R.S. 39:4-50.15(b), a DWI/DUI with a minor passenger is considered a separate disorderly persons offense that carries unique punishments. As set forth by the statute, a guardian who is convicted of driving while intoxicated or driving under the influence and who at the time of the violation has a child as a passenger in the car is guilty of a disorderly persons offense. The punishment for this offense is a sentence of up to six months in the local county jail and a fine of up to $1,000. This is in addition to any penalties for the underlying drunk driving offense.
Additionally, a parent who is driving drunk with a child in the vehicle is also likely to face criminal charges for endangering the welfare of a child. According to the NJ child endangerment statute, N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4(a)(2), any person with a legal duty to care for a child, or anyone who has assumed responsibility for the care of a child, who causes the child harm that would make the child an abused or neglected child as defined in N.J.S.A. 9:6-8.21 is guilty of a second degree felony. A conviction for a second degree crime could lead to a sentence of 5-10 years in NJ State Prison and a fine of $150,000.
On top of any potential criminal consequences for driving while intoxicated with a child passenger in NJ, child protective services (“DCP&P”) will also open an investigation into the family. This investigation will be conducted by the Division and will be separate and apart from any law enforcement investigations. The point of the DCP&P investigation will be to determine whether the child was placed at risk of harm or actually harmed during the DUI incident. DCP&P investigators will probably interview the child and the parent, in addition to any third parties who witnessed the incident. Investigators will ultimately determine whether it would be contrary to the welfare of the child to allow them to remain in the home with the parent.
If you or a loved one has been arrested and charged with a DWI/DUI with a minor child in the vehicle, contact the Tormey Law Firm now for a free initial consultation.