Woman Arrested for Alleged DWI with a Child in Car in Sussex County
Officers with the Hopatcong Police Department recently arrested a woman after she allegedly drove while intoxicated in a school zone with a child in the car. According to Hopactong law enforcement officials, the 47-year-old suspect was driving erratically and with a broken muffler. After initiating a motor vehicle stop, the police administered field sobriety tests and determined that the woman had been drinking and was intoxicated. In addition to the suspect behind the wheel, a 10-year-old child was reportedly in the back seat of the car and the child’s father was reportedly in the front seat. As a result of the traffic stop, the police charged the suspect with third degree endangering the welfare of a child, Driving While Intoxicated (DWI), DWI with a minor in the vehicle, DWI within a school zone, reckless driving, failure to maintain lane, excessive muffler noise, and driving without insurance. Sometime after being placed under arrest, the suspect was released to a friend. The available information does not indicate what happened to the child passenger or to the child’s father.
These events will potentially lead to an investigation by the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (“DCP&P”), formerly the Division of Youth and Family Services (“DYFS”). That’s because the child’s father was allegedly in the car at the time of the traffic stop and the DWI violation. In other words: if the father knew that the driver was intoxicated, it is possible that the Division could substantiate or establish neglect against the father because of the risk of harm facing the child. N.J.S.A. 9:6-8.21 (c)(4) defines an “abused or neglected child” as a child less than 18 years of age and whose physical, mental, or emotional condition has been impaired or is in imminent danger of becoming impaired as the result of the failure of his parent or guardian to exercise a minimum degree of care (a) in supplying the child with adequate food, clothing, shelter, education, or medical or surgical care though financially able to do so or though offered financial or other reasonable means to do so, or (b) in providing the child with proper supervision or guardianship by unreasonably inflicting or allowing to be inflicted harm, or substantial risk thereof, including the infliction of excessive corporal punishment; or by any other acts of a similarly serious nature requiring the aid of the court.
In this case, if there is evidence that the father knew the driver was intoxicated, then the Division may conclude that the father failed to exercise a minimum degree of care in providing proper supervision due to the potential risks associated with permitting an intoxicated person to drive a vehicle in which his child was a passenger. However, every case that DCP&P investigates is fact sensitive and each investigation turns on the totality of the circumstance. DYFS typically leaves no stone unturned in the course of an investigation for child abuse or child neglect.
If you or a loved one is being investigated by the Division, it is important to know that you have rights and that you can be represented by a DCP&P defense attorney during the investigation. In fact, the New Jersey DYFS defense team at the Tormey Law Firm is always available to assist anyone who is being subjected to a DCP&P investigation. We have helped many parents get through a Division investigation and we are ready to help you today.