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What makes drunk driving a felony in New Jersey?

On Behalf of | Apr 26, 2024 | DWI Defense |

Drunk driving is a serious offense that can have severe consequences, particularly in New Jersey. Understanding what can elevate drunk driving to a felony charge is helpful for all drivers.

A charge of driving while intoxicated or driving under the influence is typically a misdemeanor. However, certain circumstances can escalate it to a felony, resulting in harsher penalties.

Multiple offenses

A factor that can lead to drunk driving becoming a felony is if the individual has multiple DUI convictions. Repeat offenses demonstrate a pattern of disregard for the law and public safety. As a result, they may lead to more severe consequences. Each subsequent offense carries increasingly harsh penalties, including the possibility of felony charges.

Aggravating factors

Certain aggravating factors can also elevate a DUI to a felony. These factors may include causing serious injury or death while driving under the influence or driving with a suspended license due to a previous DUI conviction. Having a minor in the vehicle at the time of the offense may also constate an aggravating factor. These circumstances heighten the severity of the offense and may result in felony charges.

Blood alcohol concentration

Another key factor in determining the severity of a DUI offense is the driver’s blood alcohol concentration. If a driver’s BAC significantly exceeds the legal limit or if the driver refuses to submit to a breath test, it can lead to felony charges.

Responsibility.org reports that there were 21,112 drunk driving arrests in New Jersey in 2019. By prioritizing safety and responsibility behind the wheel, people can help prevent the impacts of drunk driving on themselves and others.