While driving under the influence is never a good idea and can bring criminal penalties for those who are caught, New Jersey law reserves special punishment for those who drink and drive with minors in the car. In perhaps the most egregious recent example of driving under the influence with a minor passenger, a South Jersey woman with a blood alcohol level of .25 percent, three times above the legal limit, was arrested for operating a school bus with 25 children of middle-school age onboard. Unsurprisingly, the law did not look favorably on the boozy bus driver, who was charged with 25 counts of driving under the influence with a minor, among other things.
What charges do drivers face when driving under the influence with children in the car?
As noted above, New Jersey has a special statute that prohibits driving under the influence with a minor as a passenger under which a driver can be criminally charged with a disorderly persons offense. Individuals who can be charged under the law include natural parents, adoptive parents, stepparents, guardians and those who voluntarily accept legal responsibility for children, such as teachers, babysitters, coaches and bus drivers. For purposes of the law, a minor is defined as any person 17 years of age or under.
The penalties for DUI with a minor passenger
Under the statute, the following penalties may be imposed:
- Six months in the county jail
- $1,000 fine
- Six-month license suspension
- Five days of community service
Judges generally vigorously impose penalties for standard DUIs, and the presence of minors in the car does little to improve offenders’ chances of leniency.
What other charges might drivers face?
In addition to DUI with a minor, drivers may face standard driving under the influence charges as well. Drivers can also be charged with endangering the welfare of a child, which may also land them in jail.
Any driving under the influence charge is a serious offense that requires representation from a qualified criminal defense attorney. Call Hoffman DiMuzio today to begin planning your defense.