How Does a DUI Become a Felony in New Jersey?

In New Jersey, you will face a driving while under the influence (DUI) charge if you operate a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or greater. Unlike many other states, New Jersey does not criminalize drunk driving. A DUI is classified as a traffic offense, not an indictable crime (which would be equated to a felony) or a disorderly person’s offense (which would be equated with a misdemeanor). However, it’s considered “quasi-criminal,” which means that motorists are entitled to the same constitutional protections that defendants facing criminal charges have. While this offense won’t end up on a criminal record, it can have severe penalties. If you’ve been charged with DUI, please don’t hesitate to contact our experienced Bergen County DUI Attorneys, who can help you defend your rights. Please continue reading to learn whether a DUI can escalate to a felony offense in New Jersey. 

When Can a DUI Escalate to a Felony Offense in New Jersey?

Although New Jersey does not classify DUI charges as misdemeanors or felonies, it’s still a serious offense that comes with substantial penalties. The state still takes DUI charges very seriously, and those convicted of this traffic violation will face severe penalties, including significant monetary fines, driver’s license suspension, installation of an ignition interlock device, participation in drunk driving education programs, and the possibility of up to 30 days of jail time. The severity of your penalties will depend on the circumstances of the offense and your criminal history. It’s crucial to understand the higher your BAC level, the harsher the penalties you will face.

Nevertheless, there are instances in which a DUI can be escalated to a disorderly person’s offense or indictable crime. For example, if you get into an accident and cause another bodily injury, you can be charged with Assault by Auto. If you cause another’s death, then it escalates to Death by Auto. These crimes can result in thousands of dollars in fines and decades in jail. Another example is if you are found drunk driving with a child in the vehicle or driving with a suspended driver’s license.

Should I Consult an Attorney?

Even though a simple DUI charge is not a crime, it can become a crime under certain circumstances. Therefore, it’s in your best interest to retain the legal services of a qualified Bergen County DUI attorney who can help you challenge your case and explore all available defenses. Given the stakes, you need quality legal representation to maximize your chances of achieving the best possible outcome.

If you have been charged with drunk driving in New Jersey, please get in touch with a proficient attorney from The Law Office of Carl Spector, who can effectively fight on your behalf. Contact us today to discuss your case.