Why You can be Charged with DUI for Letting Someone Else Drive Drunk in Ocean County, New Jersey
Essentially everyone knows that driving while intoxicated (DWI) is illegal in New Jersey. Under State law, someone is considered intoxicated if their blood alcohol concentration is at or above 0.08 percent. While most people know that they should not get behind the wheel drunk, what they often do not realize is that individuals can be charged if they let a friend or loved one drive under the influence, too. In fact, if you allow someone you know is intoxicated to drive in New Jersey, the penalties are the same as if you were driving with intoxicated yourself.
If you know that a friend should not be driving, you have an obligation under New Jersey law to stop him or her if you are in control of the vehicle involved. In fact, you can be charged just as severely as if you were driving yourself. Drivers who are charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI) are also not permitted to enter plea bargains as part of New Jersey’s zero tolerance laws. The same rules apply to those who let friends or loved ones drive drunk—you cannot plead to a lesser offense in these circumstances.
Proving an “Allowing” Charge in New Jersey
Letting someone drive drunk is often referred to as an “allowing” charge. Although the penalties for a DUI charge and an allowing charge are the same, what the prosecution must prove to get a conviction is very different. In fact, an allowing offense is generally harder to demonstrate than a DWI offense.
The prosecution must show:
- The person charged owned the vehicle used or had custody and control over it;
- The person accused had knowledge that the drunk person was intoxicated enough that he or she was likely beyond the legal limit; and
- The driver had the defendant’s consent to operate the vehicle involved.
Usually, the person charged with an “allowing” offense is in the vehicle with the drunk driver at the time of the incident, but this is not always the case.
Penalties for Allowing DWI Offenses
The penalties for DWI and allowing DUI offenses are essentially the same, even if you aren’t the driver of the vehicle. For a person whose BAC is between 0.08 and 0.10 and it is their first offense, the penalties include a fine of no less than $250 but no more than $400; imprisonment for up to 30 days; license suspension for three months; at least six hours per day for two days in an Intoxicated Driver Resource Center; and an auto surcharge of $1,000 per year for three years.
If the driver’s BAC is above 0.10, then the fines increase to between $300 and $500, and the amount of potential license suspension time will increase to between seven months and one year. These penalties can increase if the incident occurred in a school zone or school crossing. It is important to note that each subsequent offense significantly increases the penalties involved.
If convicted for allowing a DWI in New Jersey, you will also be assessed surcharges for: the Drunk Driving Enforcement Fund ($100), a restoration fee to the Motor Vehicle Commission ($100), an Intoxicated Driving Program fee ($100), a Violent Crimes Compensation Fund fee ($50), and a Safe and Secure Community Program fee ($75).
Manchester NJ Attorneys for Permitting DWI
If you have been charged for allowing DUI in the Ocean County, New Jersey, area, you should speak with an experienced DWI defense lawyer about the validity of your specific charge. Obviously, New Jersey takes drunk driving very seriously, but the State may not have enough to prove you permitted DWI. At William Proetta Criminal Law, our lawyers successfully combat drunk driving and allowing DWI charges in Seaside Heights, Brick Township, Manchester, Lacey Township, Toms River, Point Pleasant, and surrounding communities NJ. Contact our team anytime at (848) 238-2100 for a free consultation with an attorney who can help you.