New Jersey prohibits the consumption or possession of alcohol by anyone under the age of 21. Unsurprisingly, New Jersey also prohibits vehicle operation by any underage person with alcohol in his or her system. This article explains the fines, fees, license penalties, and treatment requirements for persons convicted of underage drinking and driving.
Anyone, including underage drivers, can be convicted of a standard DWI in New Jersey for operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or more or while actually under the influence of alcohol, a narcotic, a hallucinogenic, or a habit-producing drug. Regardless of age, drivers who are convicted of a standard DWI face the same potential penalties.
However, any driver who's under the age of 21 can be cited for an underage DWI for operating a vehicle with a BAC of at least .01% but less than .08%.
An under 21 DWI carries the following penalties.
Community service. The court will order the offender to complete 15 to 30 days of community service.
License suspension. The state will also suspend the driver's license for 30 to 90 days. A teen holding a probationary license must also complete a four-hour remedial driving course and can't receive a basic driver's license for a year. A teen holding a learner's permit must complete the four-hour class and will be suspended for an additional 90 days. Subsequent DWI offenses can result in further license suspension or revocation.
Treatment. All offenders must also complete the "Intoxicated Driver Recourse Center" (IDRC) program or a similarly approved rehabilitation program. The IDRC will conduct an evaluation and interview and refer the offender to an appropriate treatment level. The treatment level is based on the driver's evaluation, driving record, and BAC at the time of the violation.
A driver arrested for underage DWI can also be charged with underage possession and consumption, which can lead to additional charges, penalties, and license suspension. For teens who are cited for driving under the influence and related charges, it's prudent to speak with an attorney who can help with navigating the legal process.