Driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol is by far one of the most known charges when it comes to traffic and alcohol-related crimes, but it definitely isn't the only one. Operating a vehicle while impaired or being impaired within itself can lead to other serious criminal charges. And drivers who are pinned with multiple offenses on top of a DWI will face severe penalties. In this article, we'll address some criminal offenses that are commonly charged alongside DWIs.
Open Container Law
Under New Jersey statute N.J.S.A. 39:4-51b, it is illegal for an occupant of a motor vehicle to have an open or unsealed alcohol beverage in their vehicle while on a public roadway or in a parking lot. This law is applicable even when the people occupying the vehicle aren't drinking - which means that consumption is never required for this act to be illegal.
Law enforcement is allowed to assume a person has consumed alcohol if an open container is located in the passenger compartment, the contents have been partially removed, and the persons in the vehicle are exhibiting behavior that indicates they're impaired.
An open container conviction in New Jersey is punishable by a fine of $200. Subsequent convictions will result in more costly fines or community service.
Boating Under the Influence (BUI)
When most people hear about impaired driving, they automatically think about a car. But New Jersey has specific laws pertaining to a less talked about vehicle: a boat. According to New Jersey statute N.J.S.A 12:7-46, it is against the law to operate a boat while “impaired by alcohol, a narcotic, hallucinogenic, or habit-forming drug” so as to alter the boater's “normal physical coordination and mental faculties [and] render such person a danger to himself as well as to other persons.” This and having a blood alcohol content (BAC) that meets or exceeds the legal limit of 0.08% can lead to a charge known as boating under the influence or a BUI.
The legal penalties for a BUI conviction will depend on the nature of the crime and the surrounding circumstances. But generally, the consequences for a first offense BUI are:
- A jail term of up to 30 days
- A fine ranging from $250 to $400
- The suspension of your boating license for one year
- The suspension of your motor vehicle license driving privileges for 3 months
Subsequent BUIs could lead to a maximum of six months in jail and the suspension of your boating license for up to 10 years. The surcharges for this crime are also incredibly costly, rising to $1,500.
New Jersey takes a fairly lenient approach to public drunkenness. Rather than criminalizing the act of being drunk in public, the state instead condemns creating an issue or disturbance in public while under the influence of alcohol. This crime is not even governed by state laws but is governed by town and borough ordinances. But just because the crime may seem minor, I've seen it snowball into a serious legal issue.
If you are found guilty of public drunkenness, the penalties could be as minor as a fine and as major as jail time, it depends on the nature of the crime and your criminal history.
Leaving the Scene of an Accident
Nothing is as scary as knowing that the impairing effects of drugs and alcohol in your system may have caused a car accident. Many people succumb to this fear of being charged with a DWI or a related crime if they are discovered and arrested, so they leave the scene of the crime. But what they may not understand at the moment is that there are several rules drivers must follow after an accident. Rule number 1 is to never leave the scene of an accident. If the driver leaves and is caught by the police at a later time, there will be legal ramifications.
If the accident resulted in damage to property or another vehicle, the driver will face a penalty including a fine ranging from $200 to $400 and possible jail time for up to 3 months. The driver may also lose his or her license for six months. Subsequent offenses will lead to a license suspension for a year.
If a driver leaves the scene where a person was injured or has died, he or she will be subject to a fine ranging between $2,500 and $5,000 and jail time for up to 6 months. If a subsequent incident transpires, the driver will lose his or her license for a lifetime.
New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorney
If you have been arrested for a DWI or any of the related offenses mentioned above, you should immediately contact an attorney. In New Jersey, a DWI is an offense that requires skilled and aggressive representation. If it's proven that your arrest was unlawful or an officer's actions strayed from protocol, there's a good chance your charges could be dismissed.
With so much on the line, the best thing you can do is contact a seasoned criminal defense attorney. The sooner a legal representative can get on your case, the more time they have to build a solid defense. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has the experience and credentials to defend and counsel people who've acquired DWI charges. He will explain your pending charges, build a solid defense and work towards getting your charges reduced or dropped. For more information about Mr. Lento's representation, contact the Lento Law Firm either online or by phone at 888-535-3686.