Children in the Car

If a child, 17 years old or younger, was in the car during a DWI or Refusal charge, enhanced penalties apply.

There are two kinds of charges that can result when a child is in the car during a DWI arrest.

The first, a disorderly persons charge under N.J.S.A. 39:4-50.16. is much less serious than a second degree charge under 2C:24-4.

Disorderly Persons Offense:

A child, or a minor, is defined under New Jersey law as a person who is 17 years of age or younger.

A parent or guardian who is convicted of a DWI, and who, at the time of the violation, has a minor as a passenger in the motor vehicle is guilty of a disorderly persons offense. “Parent or guardian” means any natural parent, adoptive parent, resource family parent, stepparent, or any person temporarily responsible for the care, custody or control of a minor or upon whom there is a legal duty for such care, custody or control.

A disorderly persons offense is a criminal conviction that can result in fines up to $1,000.00, and possible jail time of up to six months. There is an additional loss of driving privileges for up to six months, which is added on to any suspension for the DWI conviction, and community service of up to five days is required.

The conviction will remain of record forever, unless it is successfully expunged. Application for expungement may be made five years after the sentence has been completed.

Second Degree Criminal Charge:

If the police file a charge under N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4. Endangering the Welfare of a Child, the penalties are much more significant if convicted. This is a “felony” level or indictable charge, that results in state prison time of up to ten years.

There are many ways to address these serious charges. Please call Levow DWI Law to discuss how we can help you.