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Underage DWI Penalties | What to Know

Young adults in New Jersey anxiously await their 21st birthdays. In the United States, it is illegal to purchase or consume alcohol under the age of 21. No matter what age you are, it is illegal to drive while intoxicated. So, when someone under 21 is caught driving under the influence of alcohol, he or she is breaking multiple laws. As a result, an underage DWI can carry serious penalties. Read on to learn more about underage DWIs in New Jersey and the associated penalties.

New Jersey’s Zero Tolerance Law

There is a zero-tolerance law in New Jersey that ensures those who drink and drive are held responsible for their actions. If an underage driver has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of even 0.01% while operating a vehicle, they can receive an underage DWI charge. Usually, these cases are heard in municipal court. However, it is important to note that underage drivers who have a BAC over 0.08% can be charged as an adult and face the same DWI penalties as that of an of age driver. 

Penalties of an Underage DWI

When an underage driver receives a DWI charge, he or she will usually be subject to the following:

  • License suspension: The individual’s driver’s license can be suspended by the state for 30 to 90 days. Teenagers with a probationary license are required to complete a four-hour remedial driving course without the possibility of receiving a basic driver’s license for one year. If the driver has a learner’s permit, he or she must complete the four-hour class and face an additional 90 days suspension. Subsequent DWI offenses can result in further license suspensions or revocations.
  • Community service: Underage DWI offenders can be ordered by the court to complete 15 to 30 days of community service.
  • Treatment: All underage DWI offenders are required to complete the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center (IDRC) program or a similarly approved rehabilitation program. The IDRC will conduct an evaluation and interview before referring the driver to a treatment level that is appropriate. This level is based on the evaluation, the individual’s driving record, and the BAC at the time of the violation. The driver may also be ordered to pay fees associated with these programs. 

If you or a loved one has been charged with an underage DWI, contact our firm today. We will examine all possible options and fight on your behalf.


Kevin T. Conway is an experienced Bergen County criminal attorney handling DUI, DWI, traffic violations, violent crimes, sex crimes, illegal gun possession, shoplifting, and juvenile crimes. Attorney Conway is also experienced in commercial law matters, zoning law, and estate planning. If you need an aggressive criminal lawyer, contact The Law Office of Kevin T. Conway for a free consultation.

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