A school bus driver has been charged with DWI and endangering the welfare of a child after allegedly driving under the influence with approximately 20 child passengers in Lakewood, New Jersey. The driver is also accused of engaging in a heated road rage incident while driving drunk with the students near the Garden State Parkway.
According to officials from the Lakewood Police Department, they received a report of a road rage incident occurring in the vicinity of Chestnut Street and Vermont Avenue in Lakewood Township at approximately 8:30 am on Wednesday. The concerned citizen explained that a school bus was one of the vehicles engaged in the dangerous driving behavior, as the two approached the Garden State Parkway.
An officer responded to the scene and questioned the bus driver, 54-year-old Toms River resident Angel Colon. Colon allegedly exhibited signs of being under the influence, including alcohol on his breath, slurred speech, and bloodshot eyes. Colon was ultimately arrested and charged with DUI and endangering the welfare of a child.
This case illustrates a common scenario in New Jersey: a driver accused of being under the influence faces additional charges for endangering the welfare of a child if a minor is in the car at the time of the offense. The language in the endangering statute, N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4, is purposefully broad to include any number of crimes. One of the fundamental elements of child endangerment in New Jersey is conduct that would make a child an abused or neglected child.
While some cases of endangering children involve sexual behavior, this is not a necessary condition for a violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4. Specifically, a person who engages in conduct that places a child in danger or who causes harm to a child, may face charges for this offense. Depending on the circumstances of the specific case, a person may be charged with a second degree or third degree indictable crime.
You can imagine that a charge for DWI is serious enough; however, these cases become increasingly damaging if you are exposed to significant prison time in connection with a child endangerment offense. The critical next step is to retain an experienced attorney who can aggressively defend your innocence. The stakes are simply too high to go it alone. At William Proetta Criminal Law, our criminal defense lawyers have successfully handled thousands of cases in courts across New Jersey. With offices in Toms River, we serve Lakewood, Ocean County, and surrounding communities.
If you have been arrested for DWI and endangering the welfare of a child in Ocean County, NJ, contact us immediately for a free consultation. Simply call (848) 238-2100 for a free phone consultation or contact us online to schedule an appointment at our local office.
For additional information related to this incident, access the following article: School bus driver charged with DWI in road rage incident with kids on board