A conviction for driving while intoxicated (DWI) in New Jersey can lead to driver’s license suspension, fines and surcharges, and jail time. It can also have legal consequences beyond those established by the state’s motor vehicle laws. It is important to understand all of the ways a DWI charge or conviction can impact your life. The New Jersey Appellate Division recently ruled on an appeal from a decision by the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCPP) to place an individual on the state child abuse registry, partly because of an alleged DWI. The decision in DCPP v. H.V. addresses issues commonly found in DWI cases, such as blood alcohol content (BAC) and observations of outward signs of intoxication.
Under New Jersey law, DWI is a motor vehicle offense punishable by jail time, a fine, and license suspension. A first offense involving BAC of at least 0.08 percent, but less than 0.10 percent, has the least potential penalty, which may include a fine of $250 to $400 and up to thirty days in jail. A third or subsequent offense, regardless of BAC, carries the greatest possible penalty, including a $1,000 fine, a minimum term in county jail of 180 days, license suspension for ten years, and mandatory use of an ignition interlock device. Defendants may also be subject to surcharges payable to the state, based on factors like the number of prior offenses.
The H.V. case involves a case of suspected DWI that led to an investigation by the DCPP. State law defines “neglect of a child,” in part, as “failure to do…any act necessary for the child’s physical…well-being.” It requires “any person having reasonable cause to believe” that a child’s parent or guardian has committed abuse or neglect to make a report to the DCPP. Within twenty-four hours of receiving such a report, the DCPP must initiate an investigation. Within seventy-two hours, it must forward the report to the child abuse registry maintained at the division’s headquarters.