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DUI School Zone

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Trenton DUI School Zone Lawyers

DWI in School Zone Defense Attorneys in Mercer County, NJ, delivering dedicated legal defense in Middlesex County, Monmouth County, and Throughout New Jersey

As seriously as the state of New Jersey takes driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol generally, one factor that has historically made this violation even more severe is when it occurs in a school zone. DUI violations in school zones have escalated potential penalties like fines, license suspension, and prison sentences well above what you might receive for the same offense on any other stretch of road. Although updates to NJ laws have changed this occurrence, having a strong defense in place is still critical to achieving the best possible outcome in your case. The Trenton DUI school zone lawyers at Scardella Law Firm can help. 

We’ve represented countless clients facing DUI and other serious charges, so we routinely handle complex, high-stakes cases like yours. Our team fights tirelessly to secure the most favorable outcome possible for every client we represent. To get started with a free, confidential consultation, contact us today. 

What Constitutes a DUI in a School Zone? 

The serious traffic offense of DUI in a school zone is an instance of driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI) that occurs on or within a specified distance from school property or at school crossings. 

Understanding DUI and DWI Offenses 

Generally, the crime of driving under the influence or while intoxicated occurs when an adult 21 or older operates a motor vehicle when their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08% or higher. A much lower threshold—0.01%, or essentially any measurable alcohol in the blood—applies to underage motorists, including adults over 18 but younger than 21. State law also recognizes as driving under the influence the operation of a vehicle when the influence of any liquor, narcotic, or habit-producing substance causes a substantial deterioration in their physical or mental capabilities to drive, even if the motorist’s BAC is below 0.08%. 

The Difference a School Zone Makes in DUI Charges

Until 2019, New Jersey law, under statute N.J.S.A. 39:4-50(g), allowed for much more severe penalties when a DUI occurred in areas designated as school zones in an effort to protect children. The state statute established school zones as encompassing any of the following: 

  • Any school property or any property used for school purposes and owned by or leased to an elementary school, a secondary school, or a school board
  • Areas within 1,000 feet of any school property 
  • An intersection that constitutes a school crossing, whether or not the site is formally designated as such by a municipal ordinance or resolution 

Under statute N.J.S.A. 39:4-50(g), you could face charges of DUI in a school zone even if: 

  • No children were hurt due to the violation 
  • No children were present at the time of the vicinity 
  • The school was closed for the evening, the weekend, a holiday, or summer break 
  • You didn’t know the area was considered a school zone

Legislative changes in 2019 eliminated N.J.S.A. 39:4-50(g), and the charge of driving while intoxicated In a school zone, from state law. Although the impact of a violation occurring in a school zone is no longer as significant as it once was when this statute was in effect, the consequences of the DUI charges against you remain serious. 

Penalties for DUI in a School Zone

Before N.J.S.A. 39:4-50(g), the charge of driving while intoxicated In a school zone, was removed as a separate violation of state law in 2019, you could suffer serious consequences if convicted. 


Even for a first offense, for which fines would otherwise amount to $250 to $400 if the BAC level was below 0.10% or $300 to $500 if 0.10% or above, being convicted of such a violation in a school zone could get you fined $500 to $800. 

For a second DUI offense within 10 years, the school zone element would raise potential fines from the $500-$1,000 range to the $1,000-$2,000, effectively doubling the fine amount. With a third or subsequent offense, a DUI in a school zone in NJ would result in a $2,000 fine, compared to the $1,000 fine issued when the third violation did not occur in a school zone. 

Prison Terms

 A first-time offender whose DUI or DWI occurred in a school zone could be sentenced to up to 60 days in prison. The maximum prison sentence for a first offense not in a school zone would amount to 30 days, which could be imposed at the court’s discretion. 

For a second offense that occurs in a school zone, the minimum prison sentence if convicted is 96 hours, compared to 48 hours for offenses that don’t occur in school zones. The maximum prison sentence for a second DUI offense in a school zone is 180 days. 

For a third offense of a DUI that occurs in a school zone, 180 days is the minimum prison term (although the court may reduce this sentence by up to 90 days for each day served in an approved inpatient rehabilitation facility). 

Driver’s License Suspension

DUI convictions can cost you your driving privileges, potentially for years, and those that occurred in school zones carried the potential for even longer license forfeiture periods. First-time offenders would usually lose their license for just three months with a BAC level under 0.10% or seven months to one year for a higher BAC. If the offense occurred in a school zone, though, the first-time offender would lose their license for one to two years. 

Second offenses that occurred in school zones would lead to four years of license suspension after incarceration, compared to two years for second DUI offenses outside of school zones. For a third offense or subsequent offense, which was already a serious enough violation that license suspension could last 10 years, the element of the violation taking place in a school zone could mean losing your license for 20 years. 

Current DUI Penalties

Because state law no longer recognizes DUI in a school zone as a separate offense with the deletion of statute N.J.S.A. 39:4-50(g), the enhanced penalties as described above no longer apply even if you were in a school zone at the time of the alleged DUI offense. Although that’s good news, it doesn’t change the reality that you’re still facing significant penalties if you are convicted of the DUI violation, including: 

  • Fines that range from $250 to $1,000, depending on factors like your BAC level and whether you have a history of DUI offenses
  • Potential prison terms, especially for repeat offenders, that could send you to jail for as long as six months 
  • License suspension for months to years and, for third and subsequent offenses, potentially for up to 10 years 
  • Potential mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device in your vehicle, at your expense
  • Possible court-ordered community service
  • Additional fines, surcharges, and other financial penalties
  • Potential mandatory participation at an Intoxicated Driver Resource Center

Despite recent legal changes, the consequences of a DUI in a school zone or elsewhere can have long-term effects on your life. Our DWI in school zone defense attorneys in Mercer County, NJ, are here to defend you against these serious charges and put you on the path to a more favorable outcome to your case. 

How Scardella Law Firm Can Help 

Defending against DUI charges, whether in a school zone or not, is a challenging endeavor. At first, you might think there’s little that can be done to help you beat these charges. In fact, our Trenton DUI school zone lawyers have a record of success in helping our clients achieve dismissals of serious DUI charges, lighter sentences, not-guilty verdicts, and other resolutions in their favor. 

Defenses for DUI School Zone Charges

The lack of children present, schools being closed, and not knowing the area was part of a school zone have historically not been valid defenses to DUI school zone charges. However, now that DUI in a school zone is no longer a distinct charge under updated state law, what’s important to address in your defense is the accusation of operating a vehicle while impaired by drugs or alcohol and the evidence by which the prosecution intends to prove its case against you. 

Our team approaches the development of your tailored defense strategy by examining your case from all angles, looking for weaknesses in the case against you and potential procedure errors that could get certain evidence suppressed or the charges completely dropped. In our investigation, we will assess the following: 

  • The validity and accuracy of breath, blood, or field sobriety tests you took 
  • The calibration and maintenance of devices used in such tests
  • The training provided to the law enforcement officer who conducted the test
  • The legality of a traffic stop that resulted in the DUI charges 
  • The procedures by which evidence against you was collected
  • The procedures used to handle specimens, test results, and other evidence against you 

Scardello Law’s Trenton DUI school zone lawyers are known for tirelessly fighting to achieve not-guilty verdicts and dismissals of charges against our clients. We’ll explore every potential avenue as we craft you a personalized defense that’s smart, compelling, and backed by evidence. 

Our Process for DUI Defense 

When you trust your defense to Scardella Law Firm, we’ll assist you from start to finish, including the following stages: 

  • Initial consultation and case review 
  • Investigation of the facts
  • Development of robust defense strategies specific to your case 
  • Comprehensive legal representation throughout the entire process 
  • Advocacy for you in every stage of proceedings 
  • Trusted advice and exploration of all of your legal options 

Not knowing what to expect from the legal process can add to your stress, but with us on your side to shed light on proceedings and possible outcomes, you can move forward with confidence that your case is in capable hands. 

DUI in School Zone Charges in Mercer County, NJ 

Mercer County, New Jersey, is home to 11 school districts and more than 90 individual schools, all condensed in a county that’s less than 229 square miles. With school properties and crosswalks spread across the county, it’s no wonder drivers are often accused of drunk driving offenses occurring in school zones. 

Our Trenton DUI school zone lawyers assist clients arrested for drunk driving in the following districts and beyond: 

  • East Windsor Regional School District in East Windsor
  • Ewing Public Schools in Ewing
  • Hamilton Township School District in Hamilton
  • Hopewell Valley Regional School District in Hopewell Borough, Hopewell Township, and Pennington Borough
  • Lawrence Township Public Schools in Lawrence Township 
  • Mercer County Special Services School District in Hamilton Township
  • Mercer County Technical Schools in Hopewell Township and West Windsor
  • Princeton Public Schools in Princeton
  • Robbinsville Public School District in Robbinsville 
  • Trenton Public Schools in Trenton
  • West Windsor-Plainsboro Regional School District in West Windsor

A drunk driving arrest can occur anywhere, from the busy cities of Mercer County to its quieter suburbs and rural regions. You can count on our Trenton DUI school zone lawyers to provide the robust representation you need to seek a more favorable outcome to the charges against you. 

Why Choose Scardella Law Firm? 

Our team of DWI in school zone defense attorneys in Mercer County, NJ, offers everything you’re looking for in a DUI lawyer, including: 

  • Extensive experience assisting countless clients throughout New Jersey over more than a decade of legal practice 
  • A proven record of results for DUI charges and criminal cases 
  • Comprehensive legal services that cover a wide range of criminal defense representation 
  • A commitment to fighting for the most positive outcomes possible for every individual client 
  • A free, confidential consultation that allows you to get answers and advice from seasoned Trenton DUI school zone lawyers

We’re here to guide you every step of the way. 

Contact the Trenton DUI School Zone Lawyers Today at Scardella Law Firm for a Free Consultation

When charged with DUI in a school zone or elsewhere, you need to take prompt legal action to protect your rights and begin building a strong defense. Our DUI attorneys make it easy to get quality representation by offering every potential client a free consultation. Find out your options and what to do next during a quick, convenient telephone consultation. 

For help from experienced DWI in school zone defense attorneys in Mercer County, NJ, contact Scardella Law Firm online or call us today.

Frequently Asked Questions About DUI School Zone Charges in Trenton

Does New Jersey punish DUI in school zones more seriously?

Before a legislative change that occurred in 2019, DWI and DUI in school zones were separate charges established under state statute N.J.S.A. 39:4-50(g). A DUI or DWI in a school zone exposed the accused to much more severe penalties if convicted, even if the school was closed, no children were in the vicinity, and no one was harmed. 
Since this legislative change, the state no longer recognizes DUI in school zones as a separate offense with separate, severe penalties. However, if you are charged with a DUI anywhere in the state, including in school zones, you could be facing serious consequences. Our DWI in school zone defense attorneys in Mercer County, NJ, may be able to help you minimize the impact of these charges. 

Can a DUI be dismissed in NJ?

It’s possible to get a DUI charge dismissed. Your best hope of doing so is to retain an experienced attorney to thoroughly investigate the charges against you and expose any weaknesses in the prosecution’s case and any rights violations or procedural errors involved in your arrest or evidence collection. Our team has successfully gotten DUI charges dropped, even against clients with a history of multiple offenses. 

Is jail time mandatory for a first DUI conviction in NJ?

Jail time is a possible, but not mandatory, sentence you could be facing if convicted of a first-time DUI offense in New Jersey. Generally, even if your BAC level is above 0.10%, the maximum prison term imposed on first-time DUI offenders is up to 30 days, per the 
New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission
Jail time for first offenders is generally imposed at the discretion of the court, so having a skilled DUI attorney provide a robust defense on your behalf can help you potentially achieve a better outcome, such as no jail time or reduced jail time. 

How long do you go to jail for a DUI in New Jersey? 

First offenses can send you to jail for up to 30 days, but jail time isn’t mandatory for this offense. For a second offense, you’re facing a mandatory prison sentence of at least 48 consecutive hours, but prison terms of up to 90 days are possible. 
Third and subsequent DUI offenses in New Jersey can send you to prison for 180 days.

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