To be convicted of a DWI (driving while intoxicated) in the state of New Jersey, you must have a minimum blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or .04 for commercial drivers. The limit changes, however, if you are under the legal age for drinking. The required BAC is just .02 for drivers under the age of 21. In New Jersey, you can be arrested for DWI even if you have not had a sip of alcohol. If you allow an intoxicated person to drive your car even though you know he is drunk, you may also be convicted of driving while intoxicated.
Implied Consent Law
If an officer has probable cause to believe you are driving while intoxicated, then he or she can require you to take a breath test of your BAC at the time of your arrest. Simply by driving on a public road, you have implied your consent to such a chemical test. Should you refuse to take the test, your driver’s license will be revoked for seven months. If this is your second offense (or refusal), it will be revoked for two years, and for a third offense (or refusal), the revocation lasts for 10 years. Previous DWIs are only relevant to your sentencing for a “look back” or “washout” period of 10 years.
Penalties for DWI Convictions
For a first conviction for DWI, you will spend a minimum of 12 hours in jail and a maximum of 30 days. You can be fined from $250 to $400, unless your BAC is above .10, in which case the fine increases to $300 to $500. Your license will be suspended for three months (or seven months to a year for a BAC of over 0.10). You will have to pay other fees as well, including a surcharge on your car insurance and over $500 worth of miscellaneous fines. You may be required to install an ignition interlock device that prevents you from starting your car without passing a breathalyzer, and you will have to attend a two-day course for intoxicated drivers.
For a second conviction, the penalties remain the same except that jail time rises to a minimum of two to a maximum of 90 days, and the fine can reach as high as $1,000. Additionally, your license will be revoked for two years, and you may also have to serve 30 days of community service. Upon a third conviction, jail time increases to 90 to 180 days and your license can be suspended for up to 10 years.
New Jersey does not have felony DWI or DUI charges. In New Jersey, a DWI is not a criminal offense. Rather, a DWI is considered a traffic offense. You can only be charged with a felony if you were involved in an accident that caused bodily injury to another person.
Changes to New Jersey DWI Laws
New Jersey DWI Laws have not undergone significant changes in recent years, but they were greatly strengthened in 2004. At that time, the BAC limit was lowered from .10 to .08, but lower penalties are issued if your BAC is under .10. The same year, New Jersey increased the amount of time you would lose your license and required that, for a third offense, at least 90 days of the jail sentence must actually be served in jail.
What Is The Legal Alcohol Limit In New Jersey?
In New Jersey, driving under the influence (DUI) charges may be brought against any motorist who has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 percent or greater. This legal alcohol limit is the same in effect in every other state, though many aspects of New Jersey DUI laws vary from other locations.
Charges that may be brought following alcohol-related traffic stops include:
- DUI with BAC between .08 percent and .10 percent. Being convicted on this charge can yield a fine of $400, a three-month license suspension, surcharges and fees of $3,500 and 30 days in prison.
- DUI with a BAC of .10 percent or greater. This offense can bring a fine of $500, a license suspension of one year, fees and surcharges of $3,500, 30 days of incarceration and installation of an ignition interlock device (IID).
- Underage DUI. Drivers not of legal drinking age may be charged with A BAC of .01 percent or greater. A conviction can result in a license suspension of 90 days, 30 days of community service and other punishments
People charged with repeat DUI offenses face more severe penalties. A person with a second conviction may face a fine of $1,000, 90 days in jail, surcharges, and fees of $5,000 and a license suspension of two years.
Ignition Interlock Requirements In New Jersey
An ignition interlock device is designed to prevent motorists who have been convicted of DUI from becoming repeat offenders. The IID requires a breath test to drive a vehicle; if a BAC registers at least .05 percent, the ignition won’t engage.
Ignition interlock device penalty periods vary. New Jersey law calls for:
- Six to twelve months of IID installation for a first DUI involving a BAC of .15 percent or greater
- IID installation for one to three years following a second offense
- One to three years of IID installation for a third DUI
Convicted individuals must cover expenses related to the IID device’s installation, monitoring, and maintenance.
New Jersey DWI Penalties
New Jersey has implied consent laws for drivers suspected of driving while intoxicated from alcohol or drugs. By getting behind the wheel, a driver automatically consents to a chemical test to determine blood alcohol level. If a driver refuses to admit to breath, urine or blood tests, penalties include suspension of a driver’s license for up to one year.
New Jersey DWI penalties apply when the driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) reaches .08 percent or higher. The law warrants a DWI charge whether or not a person’s driving ability is impaired. When a driver’s license is suspended because of a DWI offense, the judge will order the installation of an ignition interlock device on a vehicle. This requires the driver to breathe into a tube before the car can be started. The vehicle will not start if the BAC is over .05 percent. To verify the breath sample belongs to the driver, the person must provide breath samples every 15 to 30 minutes.
If an ignition interlock device is ordered, the driver will have driving suspended for a specific period of time. Following the suspension, if the device is not installed when required, driving privileges can be suspended for an additional time.
Penalties for a 1st DWI offense
For a BAC of .08 percent, but less than .10 percent, drivers can receive a three-month suspension of driving privileges for a first DWI offense. New Jersey DWI penalties also include a fine of $250 to $400 and the driver is ordered to spend 12 to 48 hours at an Intoxicated Driver Resource Center (IDRC). A jail term of up to 30 days can also be imposed.
For a BAC of .10 percent or higher, the driver receives a seven-month to the one-year suspension of driving privileges, a fine of $300 to $500 and 12 to 48 hours at an IDRC. A jail term of up to 30 days can also be imposed.
Penalties for a 2nd DWI offense
Driving privileges are suspended for two years and a fine imposed from a minimum of $500 to a maximum of $1,000 for a second DWI offense. Thirty days of community service is required, including 12 to 48 hours at an IDRC. Imprisonment is between 48 hours to a maximum of 90 days.
Penalties for a 3rd DWI offense
For a third DWI offense, driving privileges are suspended for 10 years and a $1,000 fine imposed. Ninety days maximum of community service is required, along with 12 to 48 hours at an IDRC. Imprisonment is 180 days.
Requirements for ignition interlock devices
For a first offense and a BAC level below .15 percent, the court may order the installation of the device for six months to one year after driving privileges have been restored. For a BAC of .15 percent or above and first refusal convictions, the driver is ordered to install the device both during the term of the driving suspension and six months to one year after the restoration of privileges.
For a second and subsequent offenses for DWI, the court requires the installation of an ignition interlock device during the term of suspension and also for from one to three years after driving privileges are restored.