vintage picture of school zone sign

DWI in a School Zone Attorney in Middlesex County

East Brunswick NJ School Zone DUI Lawyer

DWI in a School Zone Defense Attorneys in Middlesex County, New Jersey

In December 1999, the New Jersey Legislature mandated that penalties for DWI offenses be enhanced in certain cases. This includes cases in which individuals who, at the time of operating a vehicle while intoxicated, were within 1000 feet of a school property or drove through a school crossing. The “school zone” need not actually surround a school, but also includes any property a) used for school purposes or; b) owned or leased by an elementary, secondary school, or school board.

The statute, governed by N.J.S.A. 39:4-50(g), is strict liability in nature and prosecuted very aggressively by New Jersey municipal courts. In order to prove that a DWI in a school zone occurred, the State need only show that the person was within a 1000 of school property or through a school crossing as designated by ordinance. Furthermore, it does not matter if the offense occurs outside of school hours and with no children present. This includes most cases, but the New Jersey Legislature created a 24-hour, 7 day a week safety zone around schools.

Penalties for DWI in a School Zone in New Jersey

The penalties for a violation N.J.S.A. 39:4-50(g) are severe and issued in addition to the standard DWI penalties. As with other DWI offenses, the punishments increase with the number of prior DUI convictions. The penalties for DWI in a school zone in New Jersey are as follows:

First Offense DWI in a School Zone: driver’s license suspension ranging from 1 to 2 years; maximum of 60 days in jail; and a fine between $600 and $1,000.

Second DUI Offense in a School Zone: 4 year driver’s license suspension; between 4 and 180 days in jail; and a fine ranging from $1000 to $2000.

Third Offense School Zone DWI: 10 year driver’s license suspension; mandatory 180 days in jail; and a fine of $2000.

The other penalties for DWI in a New Jersey school zone, issued in addition to those above include: extended required attendance at an Intoxicated Driver Resource Center (IDRC) and an Ignition Interlock Device installed in your vehicle.

Can I be charged with DUI in a School Zone and DWI in NJ?

DWI in a school zone and driving under the influence are two distinct offenses under New Jersey law. In other words, you can be convicted of driving while intoxicated and DWI in a school zone in connection with the same incident. Consider a motor vehicle stop in which the driver’s BAC is 0.10% and he or she is within 1,000 feet of a local baseball field used by the school baseball team. Now, the driver is likely to face compounded penalties because of the DWI itself and the location where the DWI occurred.

What if I didn’t know I was driving under the influence in a school zone?

Often, you simply aren’t aware that you are driving in a school zone. Unfortunately, New Jersey operates under a policy of “strict liability,” which means your knowledge of the proximity to a school zone is irrelevant to your innocence or guilt. In addition, DWI in a school zone charges apply to actual schools, school property, school crossings, and property used for school purposes. This significantly expands the circumstances in which a driver can be charged with a violation of N.J.S.A. 39:4-50(g).

Some of the common places where people are charged with school zone DWI offenses in New Jersey include: athletic fields such as those used for soccer, football, baseball, and basketball; school crossings; administrative buildings; and property that is currently owned or leased by an elementary school, secondary school, or school board.

It is important to note that children need not be present at the time of the offense for a person to be charged with a school zone DWI. In other words, police can charge you with DUI in a school zone for operating a motor vehicle under the influence and driving through a school crossing at 2 o’clock in the morning.

Contact an Edison NJ School Zone DWI Attorney for a Free Consultation

Clearly, DWI in a School Zone is a very serious charge in New Jersey. However, there are multiple defense strategies that an experienced DWI lawyer can use to have these charges dismissed. Our attorneys handle a large amount of DWI, Refusal, and DWI in a School Zone cases throughout Middlesex County including in WoodbridgeEdisonOld BridgeSayrevillePlainsboroCranburyHighland ParkSouth Plainfield, and East Brunswick. For a free consultation about your charges for driving under the influence in a school zone, contact us at (732) 659-9600 or visit our conveniently located Edison office.