If you are under 21 and you have been charged with driving under the influence (DUI) in Morristown, you need to make informed decisions about your situation. It is not an exaggeration to say that a DUI conviction could truly impact the rest of your life. But, while the consequences of a DUI conviction can be severe, you have options available, and you can—and should—protect yourself with the help of an experienced Morristown DUI lawyer.
7 Important Facts to Know if You Are Facing an Underage DUI in Morristown
When facing an underage DUI charge, there is a lot you need to know. Here are seven important facts about facing an underage DUI in Morristown:
1. The Penalties for Underage DUI Depend on Your Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC)
When you are under 21, the penalties for driving under the influence depend on your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at the time of your traffic stop.
If your BAC was between 0.01 percent and 0.08 percent, you will most likely be charged under New Jersey’s “zero tolerance” law. This law imposes up to a 90-day driver’s license suspension and 30 days of community service for a first-time offense. However, if your BAC was 0.08 percent or above, you will most likely be charged under New Jersey’s standard DUI law. For a standard first-time offense, potential penalties include a driver’s license suspension, community service, jail time and fines—among others.
2. The Penalties for Underage DUI Also Depend on Other Factors
While your BAC is an important factor for determining the risks you are facing as a result of your DUI charge, it is ultimately just one factor of many. For example, if you caused an accident or had friends or siblings in your car who were minors, the consequences of a conviction could be far more severe. This is true regardless of your BAC. An experienced Morristown DUI lawyer can examine your case and determine what penalties are at stake—and your lawyer can explain the collateral consequences of an underage DUI conviction as well. These could include consequences such as:
- Consequences at school or at work
- Limited employability in the future
- Limited access to housing and financing opportunities
3. There is No Plea Bargaining in New Jersey Underage DUI Cases
Many people assume that a Morristown DUI lawyer will be able to negotiate a plea bargain that helps them avoid unnecessary consequences while also avoiding the need to go to court. But plea bargaining is not an option in New Jersey DUI cases. Instead, you must either fight your underage DUI charge in full or you must rely on your lawyer to convince the prosecutor to either: (i) drop your underage DUI charge; (ii) reduce your charge to a “wet reckless,” or (iii) recommend a reduced sentence to the judge.
Deciding which of these options to pursue requires a detailed understanding of the facts of your case as well as an intimate understanding of New Jersey’s DUI laws. While your level of impairment (if any) is an important factor, other important factors include:
- Did the police conduct a lawful traffic stop and arrest?
- Are your breath test and field sobriety test (FST) results reliable?
- Have the police or prosecutors made any other mistakes that impact your rights in your underage DUI case?
4. You Could Be Facing Charges On Top of Your Underage DUI
Another important factor to consider when facing an underage DUI charge in Morristown is the possibility that you could be facing other charges as well. For example, in addition to pursuing underage DUI charges, prosecutors will also commonly pursue charges for:
- Refusal to Submit to Breath Test – Under New Jersey law, you are required to take the breath test during a DUI traffic stop (in most cases). If you refused the breath test, you can face penalties for a “DUI refusal” regardless of whether you are found guilty of drunk driving.
- Underage Alcohol Possession or Consumption – When you are under 21, knowingly possessing or consuming alcohol is a separate offense from underage DUI that carries its own statutory penalties.
- Possessing an Open Container in the Passenger Compartment – Regardless of your age, if the police find an open container in the passenger compartment of your vehicle during a DUI stop, this can lead to an additional charge (and additional penalties) as well.
5. There Are Several Potential Defenses to Underage DUI Charges in Morristown
Regardless of the specific charge (or charges) you are facing, there are a variety of ways an experienced Morristown DUI lawyer may be able to protect you. There are several potential defenses to all types of underage DUI charges as well as the additional charges we just listed. When you hire a lawyer to represent you, your lawyer will determine what defenses you have available based on the facts of your case, and then your lawyer will help you make an informed decision about how best to move forward.
6. There Are Also “Defenses” That Don’t Work—and You Need to Be Careful
While there are several potential defenses to underage DUI charges in Morristown, there are also several “defenses” that don’t actually work. When your future is on the line, you need to avoid saying anything that prosecutors can use against you.
7. Your Next Step is to Schedule a Free Consultation with a Lawyer in Morristown, NJ
Given the challenges and risks involved with facing an underage DUI charge in Morristown, if you have a court date pending, your next step is to schedule a free consultation with a local lawyer. You have nothing to lose by speaking with a lawyer, and you have everything to gain by putting an experienced lawyer on your side.
Contact Morristown DUI Lawyer Scott Gorman
If you are under 21 and facing a DUI charge in Morristown, we strongly encourage you to contact us for more information. Call 973-796-3800 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation with Morristown DUI lawyer Scott Gorman.
Published in Categories: DUI / DWI