Driving under the influence (DWI) is a serious offense at any age. However, for those under the legal drinking age of 21, New Jersey law has even stricter regulations and penalties. These regulations aim to deter underage drinking and driving, protect the community, and address the particular vulnerabilities of young drivers.
Understanding New Jersey’s Zero Tolerance Policy
New Jersey employs a “zero tolerance” policy when it comes to underage DWI. Unlike the general population, where the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit is 0.08%, those under 21 are held to a standard of just 0.01% BAC. This means even consuming a minimal amount of alcohol could lead to DWI charges for an underage individual.
Specific Penalties for Underage DWI in New Jersey
- License Suspension: Upon conviction, the juvenile’s driver’s license will be suspended for 30 to 90 days. If the individual is too young to possess a license, the suspension will take effect once they’re eligible to drive.
- Community Service: The convicted individual will be mandated to perform 15 to 30 days of community service. This is both a punitive measure and a means to educate the offender about the potential consequences of their actions.
- Participation in an Alcohol Education and Highway Safety Program: This program, managed by the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center, aims to highlight the dangers of drinking and driving, helping the offender recognize the risks and make better choices in the future.
Implications for the Convicted Juvenile
- Permanent Record: A DWI conviction will remain on the juvenile’s driving record permanently. This could be a significant setback when applying for jobs, especially those requiring a clean driving record or background check.
- Insurance Implications: A DWI conviction will inevitably lead to increased car insurance premiums. Some insurance providers may even refuse coverage for someone with such a conviction.
- Educational Setbacks: Some educational institutions, especially colleges and universities, require applicants to disclose any criminal convictions, which can affect admissions decisions.
- Loss of Employment Opportunities: As mentioned, many employers conduct background checks. A DWI conviction, especially at a young age, might suggest irresponsibility and poor decision-making to potential employers.
The Psychological Impact Of A DWI
Beyond the legal and financial ramifications, the psychological toll on the juvenile should not be overlooked. The shame, regret, and stigma associated with a DWI conviction can be overwhelming, leading to lowered self-esteem, strained relationships, and even mental health challenges.
Professional Help Will Be Needed
New Jersey’s stringent measures against underage DWI emphasize the state’s commitment to ensuring the safety of its roadways and the well-being of its youngest citizens. For juveniles, the implications of a DWI conviction go far beyond legal penalties. It affects their personal, professional, and psychological lives.
For those under 21, understanding the severe repercussions of underage DWI is crucial. While peer pressure and the allure of youthful rebellion might tempt some, the potential consequences are undeniably steep. Prevention, education, and wise decision-making remain the best strategies to ensure a safe and promising future for New Jersey’s youth.
An experienced DUI/DWI attorney in New Jersey can make a big difference in your case.
Call Matthew Reisig today at 732-625-9660 and speak to an experienced New Jersey DWI attorney for free.
Reisig Criminal Defense & DWI Law, LLC
1 Broad St
Freehold, NJ 07728
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