Assault by auto is a New Jersey criminal offense and can be charged as a disorderly persons offense, a fourth (4th) degree, third (3rd) degree, or second (2nd) degree crime. The nature of the charge and the possible penalties will depend upon the extent and seriousness of the injury to the victim, whether the defendant was intoxicated (DWI) at the time of the arrest, and the location of the alleged crime
The elements the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt to convict an individual charged with assault by auto are the following:
1) The person drove recklessly
2) The person caused bodily injury to another
If the defendant operated a vehicle recklessly, and simple bodily injury results, the defendant will be charged with a disorderly persons offense. This exposes the individual to a possible 6 month jail sentence and up to $1000 fine
If the defendant drove recklessly and caused serious bodily injury, the driver will be facing a fourth degree offense, which carries up to 18 months in jail.
If the accused was driving while intoxicated and serious bodily injury to another resulted, The ensuing criminal charge will be a third degree offense, with up to 5 years in jail as a possible consequence. If simple bodily injury is alleged, than a DWI related assault by auto is a fourth degree.
DWI related assault by auto is a second degree offense if the offense occurs in a school zone, and serious bodily injury results. A second degree offense carries up to 10 years in State prison.
Remember, in addition to injury, the State must prove that the defendant acted recklessly, which is defined as consciously disregarding a substantial and unjustifiable risk that injury will result from his/her conduct.
If you or someone you know has been arrested and charged with this serious motor vehicle related offense, contact an attorney prior to speaking with police and before any court dates. This is a serious offense and, if convicted, the defendant could be sent to jail for an extended period of time. Todd Palumbo is available 24/7 for free consultations.