In New Jersey, facing criminal charges for causing an accident while driving under the influence (DUI) is an extremely serious matter. Depending on the circumstances involved, you could face charges for up to a second-degree indictable offense, which means that you could be facing up to a decade behind bars.
Causing a DUI Accident is Considered “Assault by Auto” in New Jersey
The reason why the penalties are so substantial is that causing a DUI accident is considered a form of assault. Specifically, it is referred to as “assault by auto.” Under Section 2C:12-1 of the New Jersey Revised Statutes, assault by auto is either a fourth-degree indictable offense or a disorderly persons offense in cases not involving DUI. However, if you are accused of causing an accident while driving under the influence, you are minimally facing prosecution for a fourth-degree crime:
- DUI assault by auto is a fourth-degree crime in cases involving bodily injury.
- DUI assault by auto is a third-degree crime in cases involving serious bodily injury.
- DUI assault by auto is a third-degree crime in cases involving bodily injury in a school zone or school crossing.
- DUI assault by auto is a second-degree crime in cases involving serious bodily injury in a school zone or school crossing.
The Penalties for Second, Third and Fourth-Degree Assault By Auto
If you have been charged with assault by auto while driving under the influence, the penalties you are facing depend on the severity of your charge. Under New Jersey law, the penalties for second, third and fourth-degree indictable crimes are as follows:
- Second-Degree Indictable Crimes: 5 to 10 years in prison and up to a $150,000 fine.
- Third-Degree Indictable Crimes: 3 to 5 years in prison and up to a $15,000 fine.
- Fourth-Degree Indictable Crimes: Up to 18 months in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Importantly, in addition to being charged with assault by auto, you could potentially also be charged with DUI. Also, if you refused a breath test at the scene of the accident, you could face an additional charge for a DUI refusal. This means that in addition to the penalties listed above, you could be facing the loss of your driving privileges (after you get out of prison) and other financial penalties as well.
Given the extreme risks of being charged with assault by auto while driving under the influence in the state, if you have charges pending, you need to promptly consult with a New Jersey DUI lawyer. You could potentially have several defenses available; however, to effectively assert these defenses, you will need an experienced defense lawyer on your side.
Speak with a New Jersey DUI Lawyer in Confidence
Are you facing criminal charges for allegedly causing an accident while driving under the influence? If so, it will be important for you to speak with a lawyer right away. To schedule a confidential consultation with a New Jersey DUI lawyer, call 877-435-6371 or tell us how we can reach you online now.
Over 20 attorneys at HCK have extensive criminal defense experience as they were former assistant prosecutors and/or police officers for a combined total of over 600 years of law enforcement experience. You can find out more about them on our website, and you can call Managing Partner Ron Helmer on his cell phone at 609 685-0665.