How a New Jersey DWI Becomes a Felony
- Dan T. Matrafajlo
- Tue Oct 2023
There really isn’t such a thing as felony drunk driving in New Jersey because it is not classified as a crime. A driving while under influence (commonly referred to as DWI) is classified as a traffic offense and as such you are not looking at state prison time. However, a DWI arrest and conviction involves harsh penalties under New Jersey law and involves certain criminal overtones when a drunk driving charge is associated with other conduct, such as vehicular assault and vehicular homicide.
DWI Cases that End with Felony Affiliations
In 2011, New Jersey enacted a new crime of driving with a revoked license from a DWI. This law criminalizes the act of driving, regardless of whether you are intoxicated at the time. Drunk driving becomes implicated in this crime as a result of a motorist driving a second time while revoked for a first DWI. In other words, if you are driving for the first time for a second subsequent drunk driving charge, you will face criminal charges.
New Jersey classifies crimes as first, second, third or fourth degree. First degree is the most serious and fourth is the least serious. Most third and fourth degree crimes have a presumption of non-incarceration if it is a first offense. However, the state legislature has made it clear that a DWI fourth degree crime results in at least six months of county jail or state prison depending on where you are classified.
How a New Jersey DWI Defense Lawyer Can Help
If you or a loved one are accused of driving while intoxicated in New Jersey, it is crucial to immediately hire an experienced DWI defense attorney, especially if you have caused an accident. If the accident has resulted in injuries or a fatality, the charges against you will no doubt be escalated to an indictable offense which can result in extended jail time. A fatal accident combined with drunk driving can be charged as manslaughter or vehicular homicide. The penalty for these charges is 5 to 10 years in prison and fines up to $15,000.
You need to have a skilled defense attorney on your side who is well-versed in these changing laws to help you avoid a conviction and the resulting harsh penalties.
Contact Us Today!
If you have been arrested for drunk driving, you should discuss your case, including any potential meritorious motions to suppress, with an experienced New Jersey DWI attorney. For more information or to schedule a free consultation with one of our skilled attorneys, please call Beninato & Matrafajlo Attorneys at Law, LLC at 908-248-4404.