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Will Certain Classes of Motorists Be Prosecuted for DWI When They Have Lower Levels of Blood Alcohol?

Interviewer: Does the limit of .08 not apply to a certain class of motorists? Such as if you have a commercial license or if you’re under the age of 21 or under the age of 18?

Commercial Drivers Operating a Vehicle in the Course of Employment Are Subject to a .04 Limit for Blood Alcohol Content

Lauren Scardella: Yes. If you have a commercial driver’s license and you’re driving your commercial vehicle then it’s a .04 standard. If you’re behind the wheel of your personal vehicle and you have a commercial driver’s license it’s still .08 standard.

Drivers under the Age of 21 Have a .01 Limit

For people that are under 21 the standard is .01. You could take Nyquil and potentially be over that.

What Factors Primarily Influence Sentencing?

Interviewer: Are there any factors that would aggravate or enhance a DUI? What if you have a child in the car under the age of fifteen or if you get into an accident?

Accidents or Having Minors as Passengers Leave the Judge Little Discretion

Lauren Scardella: Those factors aggravate a DWI in the sense they don’t leave the judge very much discretion. Yes, if there’s an accident with no injury then that’s still considered an aggravating factor. It might result in a slightly longer suspension if the BAC was over a .10. This is because in that case the potential license loss is 7 to 12 months, but I would say most people are sentenced to the minimum of 7 months.

In cases where there’s an accident or there’s a very high BAC or there’s a minor in the car those can be reasons why a judge might sentence to a longer license suspension. It all just really depends on the court and the particular judge.

A Minor Passenger May Entail an Additional Charge and Result in a Criminal Offense Instead of the DWI Traffic Offense

In the case of a child being in the car that factor can also be charged as a completely separate offense, which is a disorderly persons offense. It carries an additional license loss of up to 6 months as well as community service. It is essentially a criminal offense, although not a crime.

DWI in New Jersey is not a criminal offense, rather it is only a motor vehicle offense. A person with a minor in the car could also be charged with child endangerment, which is an indictable crime.

Accidents Attributed to DWI with Injuries or Death Result in Serious Criminal Charges

If there were a car accident and there were injuries that would then become an indictable criminal offense to be dealt with in the Superior Court. The driver would be charged with assault by auto or in the event of a death they would be charged with death by auto in addition to the DWI.

DWI Itself is a Non-Indictable Offense

Interviewer: Is a DWI normally is charged as a misdemeanor but it can become a felony which is an indictable offense if there is bodily injury or death?

Lauren Scardella: In New Jersey the DWI itself is only a traffic offense. If there’s anything like an aggravated assault, that’s an indictable criminal offense. Indictable offenses are what we call our felonies in New Jersey. Just a straight DWI charge is not a criminal offense.

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