DWI Conviction History Brings Parent to the Attention of New Jersey Child Protection Agency

SplitShire [Public domain, CC0 1.0 (https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/)], via PexelsA driving while intoxicated (DWI) conviction comes with a mandatory period of license suspension, as well as the possibility of a fine and jail time. Subsequent convictions bring greater penalties. The offense of driving while license suspended (DWLS) also results in penalties, and it is considered a criminal offense in certain circumstances. Beyond New Jersey’s traffic and criminal statutes, DWI and DWLS may have consequences in other areas as well. In one recent case, several prior DWI convictions, and the resulting license suspension, brought two parents to the attention of state child protection workers. The New Jersey Appellate Division addressed this in its decision in New Jersey Div. of of Child Prot. and Permanency v. P.A.

The penalty for a first DWI conviction depends on the defendant’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC). If the BAC was 0.08 percent or greater, but less than 0.10 percent, New Jersey law imposes a penalty that may include a three-month license suspension, a fine of $250 to $400, 12 to 48 hours of programs at the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center, and up to 30 days in jail. If the defendant’s BAC was above 0.10 percent for the first conviction, the fine is $300 to $500, and the period of license suspension is seven months to one year. By the third or subsequent offense, the jail term is at least 180 days, and the period of license suspension is 10 years.

A first-offense DWLS carries a fine of $500. If the reason for the underlying license suspension was a DWI conviction, state law also requires the revocation of the defendant’s vehicle registration. Operating a vehicle without a valid registration can result in impoundment of the vehicle. For a second DWLS conviction, the fine increases to $750, and the defendant is subject to a one-to-five-day jail sentence. A third offense leads to a $1,000 fine and a 10-day jail sentence. Criminal DWLS occurs in certain situations involving prior DWI and DWLS convictions, and it carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 180 days’ imprisonment.

These consequences are generally well-known, but they can play a role in other legal proceedings as well. The Division of Child Protection and Permanency (CP&P) of the New Jersey Department of Children and Families is charged with enforcing state child protection laws, which could involve removing one or more children from a home if it finds that they have been abused or neglected. State law defines “abused or neglected” to include situations that present “a substantial…risk of physical injury…by other than accidental means” that is likely to result in death or serious injury. A parent’s driving record is often considered highly relevant to this sort of determination.

The parents in the P.A. case reportedly came to the attention of CP&P because of an anonymous tip that, in addition to abusing drugs and alcohol, they were driving on suspended licenses. CP&P learned that both parents were subject to 10-year license suspensions because of DWI convictions, which led to further investigations and ultimately the removal of the children.

Regardless of whether you are ever convicted of an offense, a DWI charge in New Jersey can have a substantial impact on your life. You can protect your rights by seeking the assistance of an experienced and knowledgeable DWI attorney, who can help you defend your case. We have dedicated 100% of our law practice at Levow DWI Law to defending DWI cases, and we are available 24/7 to help you. Contact us today online or at (877) 593-1717 to schedule a free and confidential consultation.

More Blog Posts:

Consequences of DWI Conviction in New Jersey Extend Beyond License Suspension, Could Include Loss of Employment Benefits, New Jersey DWI Attorney Blog, April 19, 2016

Defendant in New Jersey DWI Case Raises “Double Jeopardy” Claim During Appeal, New Jersey DWI Attorney Blog, February 9, 2016

New Law Makes Expungement of Criminal Records in New Jersey Easier, but Still Does Not Include DWI, New Jersey DWI Attorney Blog, January 23, 2016

Photo credit: SplitShire [Public domain, CC0 1.0], via Pexels.