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DWI with a Minor Passenger in New Jersey


A DWI conviction in New Jersey can result in harsh criminal penalties, such as fines, driver’s license suspension, and potentially jail time. However, if you are pulled over for drunk driving with a child in the vehicle, you could face more serious consequences.

According to state law, it is a “disorderly persons offense” to drive while impaired with a minor who is 17 years old or younger in the vehicle. The prosecution must prove that the alleged offender was driving on the public road, was under the influence of alcohol or drugs, a child was in the vehicle, and the offender is the parent or guardian of the child.

A conviction of DWI with a child passenger in New Jersey carries a maximum jail term of six (6) months, a fine of up to $1,000, six (6) months of driver’s license suspension, and community service. Keep in mind, driving under the influence with a minor passenger is a separate offense from DWI, so you could be charged with both offenses at the same time.

Additionally, if a child suffers an injury as a result of drunk driving, you could be charged with “endangering the welfare of a child.” State law says that if a person who is legally responsible for a child harms the child to the point it is considered abuse or neglect can be charged with a second-degree crime, punishable by imprisonment for up to ten (10) years and a maximum fine of $150,000.

Aside from the potential criminal consequences of a DWI with a minor passenger, the incident could be reported to the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCP&P). Child protective services will conduct an investigation to determine if the child is harmed or at risk of such harm. Therefore, if you are arrested for DWI with a minor passenger or endangering the welfare of a child, you could also be brought before the Family Court.

If you have been arrested for a DWI in Bergen County, contact Law Offices of Joseph R. Donahue, LLC today and schedule a free initial consultation. 

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