Does New Jersey Consider a DUI a Felony?

man drinking and driving

Driving while under the influence is never a good idea. However, people make this choice every day and suffer the consequences of it, including jail time, hefty fines, and a guilty conscience. While some states consider this charge a misdemeanor, others will punish it to the fullest extent of the law as a felony. If you’re unsure what the laws are in New Jersey or if the state considers a DUI a felony, you’ll want to keep reading. You will also discover how a Middlesex County DWI attorney can help.

What Constitutes a DUI?

Any time a person is operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration, or BAC, of 0.08% or higher, they are considered legally intoxicated. This means they would be charged with a DUI.  However, if the driver is under the age of 21 and has a BAC of 0.01 or higher, they will be charged with a DUI.

Even if you are under the legal limit, a police officer can determine that you are not driving safely, and they can still issue a DUI. This is due to the fact that any amount of alcohol in your system can affect your ability to operate a vehicle.

When Is a DUI a Felony?

In New Jersey, a DUI, in most circumstances, is not considered a felony. Unlike other states, New Jersey deems this a traffic violation. This means the penalties you can expect to face will be harsh, but not as severe as a felony.

However, there are circumstances that could raise the penalty of a DUI to a disorderly persons (misdemeanor) or indictable crime (felony). For example, if a parent is caught driving under the influence while anyone under the age of 17 is in the car, they could receive a disorderly persons charge. If an intoxicated driver causes an accident, subsequently injuring or killing another person, it would be considered an auto assault charge, which can become an indictable crime.

What Are the Penalties?

The penalties for drinking and driving in New Jersey will vary depending on whether or not it is your first offense, how high your BAC percentage was, and the severity of the incident.

For example, your first DUI charge in New Jersey with a BAC between 0.08% and 0.10% can come with a fine, jail time of up to thirty days, the suspension of your license until an ignition interlock device is installed, and mandatory Intoxicated Driver’s classes.

However, if you are charged with third-degree assault by auto due to a DUI, you can endure extreme consequences. In this instance, you can face 3-5 years in prison if the injuries caused by driving under the influence caused severe injuries to the victim.

If you’re facing any charges related to a DUI in New Jersey, hiring the help of a competent lawyer is crucial to helping you get the best possible outcome for the circumstance. Don’t wait to reach out to the Law Office of Micael A. Policastro to connect with a seasoned attorney.

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