Underage DWI Penalties

Underage drinkingDrinking and driving is a dangerous decision for any driver, regardless of their age. But when an underage driver is charged with a DUI, the stakes are high because New Jersey is a zero-tolerance state for underage DUI.

If you’re charged with underage DWI, contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer to represent and fight for you in court. At the Law Offices of Christopher L. Baxter, we understand the severe impact an underage DWI conviction can have on your life.

Contact our team to discuss the specifics of your case and create a custom defense to improve the chances of a win.

What qualifies as an underage DWI in New Jersey?

According to New Jersey DWI laws, you can be convicted of underage DWI if you are under the legal drinking age of 21 years old and have a blood alcohol concentration level between 0.01% and 0.08%.

If your BAC reading is over .08%, you will likely be charged with DWI and an underage DWI.

For many individuals, a single cocktail is enough to reach the 0.01% BAC mark. During a traffic stop, a police officer with probable cause can take you through field sobriety tests and later confirm your BAC levels through blood and breath tests.

Penalties for underage DWI

If an underage driver is caught operating a vehicle with a BAC above the legal limit, they can face several penalties, including:

  • License suspension from 30 to 90 days, but if you don’t have a driver’s license yet, you will be restricted from getting one for the same period.

  • 15-30 days of community service

  • Complete alcohol treatment classes if the IDRC assessment recommends it.

  • Community service from 15 to 30 days

The DWI laws in New Jersey also apply to underage drinking on a boat. On the bright side, an underage DWI conviction doesn’t count as a first DWI offense.

Collateral consequences of an underage DWI conviction

An underage DWI conviction has repercussions that extend beyond the immediate penalties. Here are some aspects of your life that can be significantly impacted:

College admissions

Applying to colleges with an underage DWI conviction on your driving record can complicate your plans for higher education. Many college applications include questions about past arrests and convictions and may reject or put you on a waiting list because of a past conviction.

If you aspire to join specialized programs like nursing or pre-law, your chances of acceptance with an underage DWI conviction are often reduced.

Financial aid and scholarships

Eligibility for scholarships and public and private financial aid vary widely depending on the organization. However, some lenders and scholarship providers have strict policies against individuals with underage DWIs on their records, potentially limiting your access to financial assistance for education.

Student housing

If you’re in college and reside in on-campus housing, a DWI conviction can jeopardize your living situation. Many colleges enforce stringent rules for students living in campus housing, typically outlined in a housing contract. A DWI violation of these rules may lead to eviction from student housing, necessitating the search for alternative accommodations.

Potential legal defense for Underage DWI

The defense employed depends on the circumstances of your case. Some of the potential defenses that can be used include:

  • Maintenance and calibration of Alcotest machine: One avenue of defense involves examining whether the Draeger Alcotest machine used for blood alcohol content (BAC) measurement was properly maintained and calibrated. Any irregularities in this process could cast doubt on the BAC reading’s accuracy.
  • Proper administration of Alcotest: It’s essential to assess whether the Alcotest was administered correctly by the law enforcement officer. Any deviations from established procedures could raise questions about the validity of the test results.
  • Officer’s training and competency: Another defense strategy may revolve around the competency of the police officer who conducted the test. If the police officer wasn’t properly trained or made some errors during testing, it could impact the reliability of evidence.
  • Field sobriety testing: The validity of these tests can be challenged, citing issues such as inaccurate or incomplete instructions, and failure to accommodate health issues that hindered your performance.
  • Legality of the initial traffic stop: In some cases, it may be possible to challenge the legality of the initial traffic stop. If the stop was conducted illegally, it could lead to excluding evidence obtained after the stop.
  • Violation of Miranda rights: Your Miranda rights must be properly conveyed when you are arrested for allegedly driving under the influence of alcohol.
  • Probable cause: The prosecution must demonstrate that there was probable cause or reasonable suspicion for the police to stop you for drunk driving.
  • BAC measurement challenge: In cases where a conviction appears inevitable, a defense attorney may seek to exclude or reduce the BAC measurement or blood/urine test results, potentially leading to a lesser charge.

Contact Law Offices of Christopher L. Baxter

If you or your child is facing underage DWI charges in New Jersey, you should act quickly and consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney. At the Law Offices of Christopher L. Baxter, we specialize in defending individuals facing DWI charges, offering expert legal guidance and representation.

Don’t let an underage DWI conviction jeopardize your future. Contact the Law Offices of Christopher L. Baxter at (856) 235-9881 today to schedule a consultation and learn more about your legal options. Our experienced team is here to help you navigate the legal process, protect your rights, and strive for the best possible outcome in your case.

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As a 2015 Clients’ Choice award recipient with a *10.0 Superb Avvo Rating, Attorney Baxter has demonstrated his ability to secure favorable outcomes on behalf of our clients, no matter how complex the situation may be. Although you may be worried about what the future holds, you do not have to work through this time on your own. We stand ready to relentlessly defend you from your initial consultation until the resolution of your case.

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