Once your teen leaves the house, keys jingling in hand, he or she is no longer under your control or supervision. You may have taught them to be responsible and safe drivers. Unfortunately, some teens will still make decisions that lead to being arrested for drinking and driving, and the need for an underage DUI attorney.
Serious consequences accompany being charged with underage drinking and driving in New Jersey. If your child is facing an underage DUI charge, it is important to weigh your family’s options carefully and contact an experienced New Jersey juvenile defense attorney.
Consequences of an Underage DUI in New Jersey
N.J.S.A. 39:4-50.14 and N.J.S.A. 39:4-50
Since underage drivers represent a disproportionately high number of drunk drivers, the state of New Jersey makes every effort to deter this behavior. If a person is under the age of 21 and caught driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of at least 0.01, the person may be charged with an underage DUI, also sometimes known as a baby DUI, statute NJSA 39:4-50.14 and NJSA 39:4-50. If convicted, the person will face:
- 30-to-90 day driver’s license suspension (drivers under age 17 will have to wait even longer to get their license back)
- Imprisonment for up to 30 days for a first offense (and up to one year in jail after a second conviction within 10 years)
- 15-30 days of community service
- Mandatory participation in an alcohol education program
For example, driving with an open container will automatically land you with a $200 fine. If previously convicted with an underage DUI, the penalties will be significantly higher.
Often, a DUI is not the only charge involved in cases of drinking and driving.
Underage drinkers may face other charges such as:
- Distributing alcohol to a minor
- Being a minor in possession of alcohol
- Soliciting for alcohol
These convictions all remain on a teen’s record, which can make it difficult for teens to pass background checks for future jobs or educational opportunities.
Additionally, car insurance companies consider it highly risky to cover drivers convicted of an underage DUI. An insurer may either terminate a policy entirely or begin charging much higher monthly premiums to account for that risk. Those high premiums can remain in place for many years after the accident.
If your teen has been charged with underage drinking and driving, having the right New Jersey underage DUI attorney may have a lasting impact on their future. Anthony J. Vecchio is an experienced juvenile defense lawyer. Call him or use the chat box below to speak with the Law Offices of Anthony J. Vecchio about how they can help.
Talk to Your Teens about Underage Drinking and Driving
One of the best ways to avoid the need for a New Jersey DUI lawyer is to talk to your teens about underage drinking and driving. If you discuss it even before they get their license, you can get a head start on helping them to develop safe habits.
It is important to frame this as a two-way discussion so that your teen driver gets all the information in a calm, low-pressure way. Consider talking about the following:
- General safety for young drivers – This includes wearing a seatbelt at all times, limiting the number of passengers and putting the cell phone down while behind the wheel. These steps will help keep everyone in the car safe.
- Peer pressure – Many teens know that drinking and driving is bad, but their peers may not realize it. At that age, peer pressure can be very strong. It can make teens act like they are OK to drive when that could not be further from the truth, or it could make them reluctant to take the keys away from a friend who has been drinking. Talk to your child about resisting peer pressure and doing his or her best to exert a positive influence on friends.
- What your rules are – This is one area of your teen’s life where it pays to be very strict. You should make it clear with your teen that drinking and driving is never acceptable – under any circumstances. Leave no wiggle room. The New Jersey DUI laws don’t.
- What your teen should do if he or she has been drinking – Let your teen know that underage drinking is never acceptable. However, allow your teen to call you for a ride home if he or she has been drinking or is with a driver who has consumed alcohol. Tell your teen that you will pick up him or her with no questions asked. Make sure the teen understands that safety is the main priority. You might even consider having a code word so your teen does not feel embarrassed in front of his or her friends.
- Plan ahead – Some nights of the year, like prom and graduation, are notorious for having high rates of underage drinking and driving. Plan ahead. Coordinate with other families to organize rides home or, perhaps, book a shared limo. Do not leave anything to chance.
Contact a New Jersey Underage Drinking and Driving Defense Lawyer
If your teen has been charged with underage drinking and driving, you will have to consider your choices carefully. You should speak with an experienced New Jersey underage DUI lawyer who can help you to navigate the process that lies ahead.
At the Law Offices of Anthony J. Vecchio, LLC, we will work hard to defend your teenager’s rights. We understand the juvenile justice system, and are experienced with baby DUI cases. We will work closely with investigators and expert to build the strongest possible case. We will seek getting your teen’s charges dismissed or to minimize the penalties he or she faces.
Our New Jersey criminal defense law firm features offices in Freehold, Mt. Laurel, Red Bank, Princeton, Jersey City and Woodbridge. We work with clients from all over New Jersey. Contact me today for a case evaluation.
Sources for More Information
- Underage DUI, State of New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission
- Talk With Your Teen about Safe Driving, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD)
- 7 Ways to Stop Teens From Drinking and Driving, For Real, Today Parents