Morristown residents are familiar with the images typically associated with campaigns against drinking and driving: defendants being administered breath tests or field sobriety tests, maybe wrecked cars on the road. And to be sure, anyone convicted of DUI will face serious penalties. But there’s another type of charge besides DUI that defendants may also face in a drunk driving case that they may not be familiar with.
Recently in a community just about a 15-minute drive away from Morristown, a car accident occurred shortly after midnight. Police responding to the scene reported that a car had run into a telephone pole. The driver and a young child in the car were not seriously hurt, but another passenger found outside the car was taken to Morristown Memorial Hospital with more severe injuries. The hospital described her condition as critical.
Police have now accused the driver, a man in his late twenties, of drunk driving. He faces additional charges for allegedly doing so with a child in the vehicle. However, he is also charged with what is known in New Jersey as assault-by-auto.
While a charge like this may seem to arise logically in a case where an allegedly drunk driver is accused of hitting another car or a pedestrian, our readers may be wondering how it could apply in a single-vehicle accident scenario. Can a driver really be charged with assault-by-auto against a passenger in his or her own vehicle?
The answer is yes, and defendants in cases like this may wish to consult a legal professional or deal with potentially long-term consequences. We’ll take a look at the assault-by-auto charge in more detail in a follow-up post.