It is a Very Serious Matter to be Charged with a Crime for Causing an Accident when Driving while Intoxicated (DWI) in New Jersey
In all circumstances, driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a serious offense in New Jersey. When driving under the influence leads to an automobile accident; however, the stakes are raised. If you’ve been in a DWI accident, you need to contact a defense attorney immediately to determine your options. Contact a member of our firm at (908)-336-5008 for a free consultation about why DWI accidents differ from standard DWI cases in this state. We can help with defending you if you have been charged with causing an accident while driving under the influence in Florham Park, Roxbury, Washington Township, East Hanover, Chatham, or anywhere else in Morris County.
Effects an Accident Might Have on a NJ DWI Case
When a DWI involves a car accident, the judge is likely to seek much harsher penalties, even if no one was hurt. If the accident resulted in further damages, injuries, or death, your DWI charge could come with additional charges.
Charges for a DWI Accident Resulting in Bodily Injury
When a DWI accident results in someone getting physically hurt, even your own passengers, an assault by auto charge could result. The penalties for assault by auto depend on the severity of the bodily injury. Assault by auto results in a fourth degree felony charge when someone is physically injured in the accident, but not seriously. Penalties for this charge are up to 18 months in prison and up to $10,000 in fines. If serious bodily injury results, assault by auto becomes a third degree crime, which carries up to five years in prison and up to $15,000 in fines. Lastly, a DWI resulting in an accident that causes serious bodily injury in a school zone warrants a second degree felony charge, resulting in possibly up to 10 years in prison and up to $150,000.
What Qualifies as Bodily Injury in a DWI Case?
Bodily injury involves specific damage done to the body because of an accident, including cuts, bruises, broken and fractured bones, burns, whiplash, and nerve damage. An injury that causes serious debilitation and long-term damage is considered severe injury.
Penalties for DWI Accident Charges Resulting in Death
When someone dies as a result of an accident, including an intoxicated driver, the driver can be charged with first or second degree vehicular homicide. Vehicular homicide involving intoxication carries the steepest penalties in New Jersey for auto-related infractions. They include up to 20 years in prison, up to $200,000 in penalties for first degree charges, and up to 10 years in prion and up to $150,000 in financial penalties for second degree charges, as well as suspension of driver’s license for anywhere between five years and life. According to New Jersey Statute 2C:43-7.2, vehicular homicide is a crime that is subject to the New Jersey No Early Release Act. Under this law, the convicted person must serve at least 85 percent of their sentence before being eligible for parole. They are then subject to up to 5 years of parole.
The criminal justice system carries steep penalties for driving while under the influence, particularly if such an act harms another person. If you commit vehicular homicide while intoxicated, however, the criminal system may not be the only one that seeks justice. The family of the deceased victim can file a wrongful death civil lawsuit to seek damages for medical expenses, loss of companionship, and pain and suffering.
Securing a Civil Reservation in a DWI Accident Case in NJ
Pleading guilty to a traffic violation could lead to a subsequent civil lawsuit if the traffic violation caused harm to or death of another. For this reason, it is important for a defendant to seek a civil reservation at the time of pleading guilty to the violation, which will protect you from this guilty plea being used against you as evidence in a civil case. A DWI defense attorney will help walk you through the important steps to take to reduce the damages you face as a result of your DWI accident.
Our Law Firm Can Defend Your Rights in a DWI Accident Case in Morris County NJ
When it comes to DWI accidents, judges look very harshly upon defendants and usually punish them to the full extent of the law in order to help ensure that the defendant will not drive under the influence again. An experienced criminal defense and DWI lawyer can save you tens of thousands of dollars and years in prison, as well as protect your permanent criminal record from severe charges like assault by auto and vehicular homicide, that will affect your chances for employment and societal participation for the rest of your life.
DWI accident charges are not a matter to be taken lightly, even if only a dented fender results. Our criminal and DUI defense team has successfully represented clients in Denville, Montville, Boonton, Parsippany, Dover, Rockaway, and Morris County neighboring areas for years, minimizing the damage done in DWI accidents and helping our clients move on with their lives. Contact us at (908)-336-5008 today to speak with a lawyer in a free consultation and learn what we can do to help you in your case.