Penalties For DWI In A School Zone - N.J.S.A. 39:4-50(g)
A DWI in a school zone infraction is defined as having occurred within 1,000 feet of a property that is utilized for school purposes. The property must be leased or owned by a New Jersey school board, elementary school or secondary school. If the municipality has deemed the area as a school crossing or if it is a location in which juveniles are crossing and present—even if it is not a designated area for the school—it is considered a school zone and the DWI will fall under its parameters with the mandatory punishments in the event of a conviction. Penalties for driving in a school zone range from $500 – $2000 with an annual surcharge of up to $2000 a year for three years. It also includes a loss of driving privileges for up to 20 years. To see a full list of court imposed Fines and Penalties click on this link.
What qualifies as a school zone in New Jersey DWI Arrest?
The language of N.J.S.A. 39:4-50(g) lays out the charge for a DWI or Drug DWI in a school zone. According to the language a violation occurs when either or both are present:
- On school property- School property is defined by 39:1-1 “school zone” means that portion of a highway which is either contiguous to territory occupied by a school building or is where school crossings are established in the vicinity of a school, upon which are maintained appropriate “school signs”. This also includes property which is owned or leased by the school or being within 1000 feet of this property.
- Driving through a school crossing- Drivers can be subject to penalty whether or not the crossing has been designated as such by ordinance or In fact all that is required to meet the definition of school crossing under 39:1-1 is “any portion of a highway where school children are required to cross the highway in the vicinity of a school.
As you can see the areas that could be covered and qualify as a school zone in NJ are broad. Not knowing that you are currently in a school zone is not a defense and whether there are actually children present or if the school is in session also does not create a defense. What this could potentially mean is that even late in the evening or on a weekend if you are driving past a football field, school park or any other school building you could be charged with a DWI in a New Jersey school zone.