New Jersey DWI Arrest Results in Proceedings Under State Child Protection Law

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.

The defendant in H.V., according to the court’s ruling, was involved in a single-car accident in April 2012. She was allegedly under the influence of alcohol at the time, and the accident resulted directly from an attempt to reach for her mobile phone. Her child, identified by the court as I.B., was the only passenger in the vehicle. The child, who was about three years old, suffered minor injuries in the accident. Both of them were transported to a hospital, where a nurse reported the matter to the DCPP.

At a proceeding before an administrative law judge (ALJ), the parties presented evidence regarding the defendant’s BAC. Each side presented an expert witness on BAC evidence. A DCPP intake worker testified that the defendant “‘did not remember much’ about the accident.” The ALJ credited the defendant’s expert witness, finding that the BAC test results were unreliable. The judge still ruled, however, that neglect had occurred, citing both the cell phone and the consumption of alcohol. The Appellate Division affirmed this ruling.

If you have been charged with alleged DWI in a New Jersey municipal court, DWI lawyer Evan Levow can help you understand your rights, guide you through the court system and legal process, and work with you to prepare the best possible defense for your case. Please contact us today at (877) 593-1717 or online to schedule a free and confidential consultation to see how our skilled and experienced team can help you.

More Blog Posts:

New Jersey DWI Case Leads to Family Court Proceedings, New Jersey DWI Attorney Blog, October 14, 2017

New Jersey Media Examine “Toughness” of State DWI Laws, New Jersey DWI Attorney Blog, August 18, 2017

How a DWI Conviction in New Jersey Could Affect Your International Travel Plans, New Jersey DWI Attorney Blog, October 12, 2016