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When attending a party or going out for a night on the town, making sure you have a designated driver is one of the best ways to protect yourself against the consequences of drunk driving. By planning ahead – and handing over your keys to someone you trust – you can enjoy your time out and avoid putting yourself and others at risk.
While there is not a specific law against having a designated driver who is below the legal drinking age, there are a number of reasons to consider choosing a designated driver who is over the age of 21. For example, under New Jersey law, young drivers who have either a driver’s permit or a probationary license are generally prohibited from driving between the hours of 11:01pm and 5:00am. Permit and probationary drivers are also subject to passenger restrictions. So, if you stay out too late, or if you have too many friends who need a ride, an underage driver may not legally be able to take you home.
What if your designated driver ends up having a drink or two (or more)? If you give your keys to someone who is supposed to stay sober but doesn’t, can you face charges when he or she gets pulled over for DUI/DWI?
In New Jersey, you can. In addition to imposing penalties for drunk driving, New Jersey’s DUI/DWI law also makes it an offense to, “permit another person who is under the influence of intoxicating liquor . . . to operate a motor vehicle owned by him or . . . permit another to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or more.”
Potentially, yes. If you let an inexperienced or drunk driver take you home and he or she causes an accident, you could face liability for “negligently entrusting” your vehicle to a dangerous driver. In a typical case, as the vehicle owner, your auto insurance policy would cover the damages resulting from the accident.
If you do not have someone you can trust to drive you home, there are several alternatives available. Calling a taxi is always an option, and these days you can rely on ridesharing apps like Uber and Lyft as well. New Jersey also offers several public transportation options (including train, bus and light rail), and many companies – like MillerCoors and Budweiser – offer safe ride alternatives.
With 12 office locations throughout New Jersey and one in New York, the defense lawyers at Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A. provide experienced legal representation for individuals charged with DUI/DWI statewide. If you are facing charges and would like to speak with an attorney, call 1-877-435-6371 or request a free confidential consultation online today.
Don’t let your rights be jeopardized.