New Jersey’s “Drunk Droning” Law Sets Limits Similar to the DWI Law

Operating a vehicle is a significant responsibility, requiring careful attention to your surroundings and the safety of others. Alcohol and many types of drugs can interfere with attention, reaction time, and other abilities that you need when behind the wheel or at the controls. New Jersey treats driving while intoxicated (DWI) as a serious motor vehicle or traffic offense. Other vehicles, including boats and airplanes, also have legal restrictions based on impairment by alcohol or drugs. In 2018, the New Jersey governor signed a bill outlawing the operation of aerial drones while under the influence. The “drunk droning” law has not received much attention in the courts, so far, but it is worth exploring how it compares to the state’s DWI law.

What is “Drunk Droning”?

New Jersey’s DWI law requires three basic elements: a person, a motor vehicle, and the influence of alcohol or drugs. Prosecutors can prove that a driver was impaired based on blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 percent or more or other evidence indicating the influence of drugs or alcohol. This typically involves police officers’ observations of a driver’s behavior and appearance.

The new law applies the same restrictions to “unmanned aircraft,” which it defines as any aircraft that can only be operated by a person remotely. An ‘unmanned aircraft system” (UAS) consists of the aircraft itself and the equipment needed to operate it, such as a remote control. A person may not operate a UAS while impaired by alcohol or drugs or if they have BAC of at least 0.08 percent.

What Are the Penalties for Drunk Droning?

The new law makes drunk droning a disorderly persons offense. This is different from a DWI offense in several important ways. Neither a disorderly persons offense nor a motor vehicle offense is considered a “crime” under New Jersey law, but both can still have serious consequences. The consequences for a drunk droning conviction can be more severe than a DWI conviction in some ways, and less severe in others.

The penalties for a DWI conviction depend on the number of prior convictions and BAC. A person with no prior DWI convictions in the past decade and BAC of at least 0.08 percent but less than 0.10 percent could face a jail sentence of up to thirty days. A first-time drunk-droning conviction, at any level of BAC that is at least 0.08 percent, could lead to a maximum of six months in jail.

DWI convictions are not subject to expungement, meaning that there is no method for removing an old conviction from one’s record. Under the right circumstances, a drunk-droning conviction is expungeable.

Is Breath Testing Required in a Drunk Droning Case?

New Jersey law requires drivers to submit to breath testing if suspected of DWI. The drunk-droning statute makes no mention of breath testing, although this does not necessarily mean that a person can refuse a breath test.

DWI is a serious offense under New Jersey law. An arrest can have a significant impact on your life. A conviction can have even bigger consequences for your life and your future. You need a knowledgeable and skilled DWI lawyer who can guide you through the process and advocate for you and your rights. Evan Levow has dedicated his law practice to DWI defense and is ready to help you today. Please contact us at (877) 593-1717 or online to set up a free and confidential consultation to see how we can help you.

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