Understanding Felony DUI Charges
A DUI in New Jersey is usually classified as a traffic offense, meaning that there is technically no such thing as a felony DUI. That said, a DUI arrest can be classified as a crime if it is associated with other misconducts such as vehicular assault, vehicular homicide, or endangering a minor’s welfare. When this happens, the defendant may face even stiffer penalties, including extensive jail time and hefty fines.
DUI: Felony vs. Traffic Offense
DUI defendants in New Jersey don’t have the right to a jury trial since the offense is not considered a felony or a crime but a grave traffic offense that carries stiff penalties. This is not to say, however, that a DUI cannot include criminal charges.
New Jersey classifies crimes as first, second, third, or fourth-degree offenses or minor offenses by disorderly persons or major disorderly person crimes. This means that the classification of a DUI will mainly depend on the facts surrounding the offense.
When Is a DUI a Crime?
A DUI is when the defendant was driving with a suspended license with a minor in the car. It can also happen when the driver causes injury or death to other parties. The most prevalent case that fits this description is Assault by Auto.
Assault by Auto
As per N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1C, a driver may be charged with assault by auto if they physically injure a person, causing illness, physical pain, impairment, permanent disfigurement, loss of a body organ, or death. The prosecution can prove such a case by establishing that the driver:
- Should not have been driving a car.
- Caused physical injury to the victim.
- Caused the injury as a result of reckless driving.
If assault by auto is proven in conjunction with a DUI, it could lead to criminal charges.
DUI Is a Quasi-Criminal Offense
In New Jersey, DUI cases are often known as quasi-criminal crimes because they do not go on your criminal record but are part of the records kept by the Motor Vehicle Commission and the United States courts in all states. They can also not be removed from these records unless you are found not guilty of the offense and are updated every time you commit another DUI.
Additionally, DUIs carry serious penalties such as long-term jail terms and steep fines, making them similar to other significant crimes prosecuted in criminal courts.
Talk to a Hudson County Personal Injury Attorney
While a DUI is not a felony in itself, causing another party an injury that leads to illness, pain, or death can lead to felony DUI charges and penalties such as jail time. DUI manslaughter, for example, is a second-degree crime that can yield 5 to 10 years of prison time and over $150,000 in fines.
Anthony Carbone is a passionate Hudson County Personal Injury Attorney who has been championing the rights of his New Jersey clients for over 30 years. If you have a case you would like to discuss with a Hudson County Personal Injury Attorney, contact the Law Offices of Anthony Carbone online or at 201-829-3805 to schedule a consultation.