Penalties for Underage DWI
Like every other U.S. state, the legal age for consuming alcohol in New Jersey is 21 years old.
Under New Jersey law (N.J.S.A. 2C:33-15), an individual can be cited for a criminal offense for underage possession and/or consumption of alcohol. Beyond the laws against drinking while younger than 21, the state also has a specialized DWI statute (and DWI penalties) for underage drinking and driving. In this article, our New Jersey drunk driving defense lawyer provides an overview of the penalties for an underage DWI.
Underage DWIs in New Jersey: Your Guide to Penalties
In New Jersey, state laws officially refer to drunk driving as DWI — or driving while intoxicated. You may also hear the charge called a DUI (driving under the influence). If you are underage, there are specialized l laws in place. Here are the most important things to know about the penalties for an underage DWI in New Jersey:
- New Jersey’s DWI Laws for Underage Drivers: The legal blood-alcohol limit in the state is 0.08%. However, that amount does not apply to drivers under the legal age to purchase alcoholic beverages, which is 21 years old in New Jersey.
- Under N.J.S.A. 39:4-50.14, a driver under 21 years old can be charged with an underage DWI if their BAC is 0.01% or higher, but less than 0.08%. The penalties for an underage DWI charge include a loss of license for between 30 and 90 days (or the person does not yet have a license, be prohibited from obtaining a license for between 30 and 90 days beginning on the date they become eligible to obtain a license or on the day of the conviction) and community service for a period of between 15 and 30 days.
- In addition, the person has to satisfy the program and fee requirements of an Intoxicated Driver Resource Center (IDRC) or participate in a program of alcohol education and highway safety as prescribed by the chief administrator of the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission.
- Underage Drivers Can Be Arrested and Charged with an Adult DWI: The New Jersey underage DWI statute does not prevent a driver who is under the age of 21 from being charged with a regular DWI. If your BAC is 0.08% or higher, even if you’re not yet 21 years old, you could face a standard DWI charge.
- The penalties for a first-time DWI include a fine between $250 to $400, up to 30 days in jail, forfeiture of your license until an interlock ignition device is installed on your vehicle, a minimum of 12 hours in an IDRC, and a $1,000 insurance surcharge each year for 3 years.
- Young Drivers May Face Enhanced Penalties Due to Aggravating Factors: An underage driver may face enhanced DWI penalties if an aggravating factor is present. Aggravating factors include a prior history of drunk driving offenses, extreme intoxication, and reckless driving causing an accident.
Underage DWI charges are notoriously complex. Professional legal guidance and support are available. If you or your loved one was arrested while allegedly operating a vehicle while intoxicated and underage, contact our experienced DWI lawyer. for immediate assistance.
Contact Our New Jersey Underage DWI Defense Lawyer Today
At the Law Office of Matthew V. Portella, LLC, our New Jersey DWI defense attorney has over 25 years of experience providing aggressive representation for those charged with traffic and criminal offenses. If you or your child were arrested for an underage DWI, we can help.
Call today or connect with us through our website for a private assessment of the case. With offices in Haddonfield and Pleasantville, we provide DWI defense representation throughout New Jersey.