Driving while intoxicated by alcohol or drugs is both illegal and risky, regardless of your age. However, for minors under the age of 21, drunk driving can be especially perilous. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration reports that around a quarter of adolescent car collisions involve alcohol.
As a result, driving under the influence is a serious offense in New Jersey, particularly for minors under the age of 21.
In New Jersey, if you are a minor and you drive with a blood alcohol concentration above 0.01%, you can face severe penalties. You can lose your license for 30 to 90 days. If you have a learner’s permit, another 90-day suspension applies.
Any driver with a probationary license must complete a four-hour remedial driving course and maintain a probationary license status for one year. In addition to license suspension, you might have to attend a state-approved rehabilitation program and complete 15 to 30 days of community service.
An underage DWI sometimes comes with related charges, like underage drinking and violating New Jersey’s open container law. Each offense carries its own set of penalties, further compounding the legal consequences of an underage DWI.
The state of New Jersey does not allow expungement of DWI convictions. This means an underage DWI can remain on your record, carrying its implications into adulthood.
Academic and career setbacks
Beyond legal penalties, an underage DWI can have long-lasting academic consequences. Some college applications and scholarships ask about criminal convictions. While New Jersey classifies DWI as a serious traffic violation and not a crime, the incident will still appear on your driving record. Colleges and universities might view this negatively during the admission process.
Future employers often conduct background checks, which include driving records. An underage DWI will show up, possibly affecting job opportunities. While some employers may overlook a past DWI, especially if it occurred years earlier, it could be a deciding factor in competitive fields. DWI violations can also make it more difficult to pursue careers that require driving.
An underage DWI in New Jersey has both immediate and long-term consequences. The risks and repercussions are long-lasting, and it is important for young drivers to understand the gravity of such actions.