Is Drunk Driving Considered a Felony in New Jersey?
- Dan T. Matrafajlo
- Thu May 2023
You can be charge with a DWI (driving while under the influence) if you are found operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol content of .08% or higher, or if the law enforcement officer who pulled you over determines you were intoxicated. In most states, drunk driving charges are accompanied with serious consequences.
This article will specifically deal with whether a DWI charge can be a felony in New Jersey and how an experienced New Jersey DWI attorney can help you.
Is DWI Considered a Felony in NJ?
No – a drunk driving charge is technically not a felony under New Jersey law. Although many states classify some DWI charges as misdemeanors or even felonies, New Jersey categorizes all DWI charges to be serious traffic violations. However, this does not mean that getting charged with drunk driving will be inconsequential, as the state takes these charges very seriously.
A DWI conviction can significantly impact all aspects of your life. Moreover, since expungement is only available for criminal charges and not traffic violations (like a DWI), a drunk driving conviction will permanently remain on your driving record in New Jersey.
The Exception to the Rule
While a simple DWI charge is not a crime in New Jersey, there is always an exception to the rule. Under certain circumstances, a DWI can become a crime. For instance, if you get into an accident and injure someone, you can be charged with Assault by Auto, which is a serious office with punishment depending on the extent of injury.
- Injury. A less severe injury is considered a fourth degree crime, with a maximum jail sentence of 18 months, in addition to fines up to $10,000.
- Serious injury. A more severe or serious injury is considered a third degree crime, with a 3 to 5 year jail time and fines of up to $15,000.
If the accident caused by drunk driving results in a death, the punishment is far worse and it will be charged as Death by Auto. It is considered a second degree crime and can result in 5 to 10 years of jail time with a fine up to $150,000. The punishment can even be harsher if the accident, resulting in death, happened on a school property or within 1,000 feet of a school, or while driving though a school crossing. It will then be charged as a first degree crime, with a 10 to 20 year jail time and a fine of up to $200,000.
Contact Us Today!
If you have been arrested for a DWI offense, you should discuss your case, including any other related charges, 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.