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Felony DUI: Not a specific charge, but still worth worrying about

One thing that makes New Jersey a bit different from other states is that the law related to drunk driving treats the issue as a traffic violation. That does not mean the consequences of being cited for driving under the influence or driving while impaired are light. They can include fines, jail time, and a criminal record that follows you and that could hurt you well into the future.

As we noted in a post on this topic back in October, if you are driving drunk and get into an accident that results in someone's death, you could be facing a felony charge of death by auto. In circumstances where death by auto is charged and no alcohol or drug impairment is a factor, the penalty upon conviction can be up to 10 years in prison and suspension of your driver's license. If there is evidence of alcohol or drug impairment, a mandatory prison term is required.

Something similar may apply in accidents in which someone is injured. These kinds of accidents can result in a charge of assault by auto. If the injury isn't considered serious, authorities may file a disorderly persons charge, conviction of which can mean up to half a-year in prison and major fines.

If the injury caused results in serious bodily harm, prosecutors could seek to charge you with 4th degree Assault by Auto. Conviction of this charge could mean a year and a-half in prison and other penalties.

If alcohol or drug impairment is proven, the charge can be elevated to a 3rd degree crime. Conviction of this offense could yield a 10-year prison term.

If the accident should happen to occur in a school zone, the charge may be elevated even higher.

Clearly, the range of possible charges is broad. All of them can lead to serious consequences. Mitigating the outcome depends on a strong defense by an experienced attorney. 

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