New Jersey has strict laws on the books that outlaw driving under the influence. This crime is called Driving While Intoxicated and applies not only to being under the influence of alcohol but also drugs.
Drivers in New Jersey need to be aware of what the legal blood alcohol contents are before they take to the roadways. They also need to know what kinds of penalties that they could face if they are found guilty of a DWI in New Jersey.
DWI in New Jersey
The per se definition of DWI in New Jersey is having a blood alcohol content level or BAC of 0.08 percent or higher. This is a standard definition that applies to a motorists who are 21 years of age and older. It extends to driving vehicles that are privately owned including recreational vehicles like mopeds and scooters.
However, New Jersey also defines DWI as driving while under the influence of intoxicating substances like liquors, narcotics, hallucinogens and habit-forming drugs. The person’s ability has to deteriorate so significantly that he or she cannot safely operate any kind of motor vehicle. To be convicted of a DWI, the state requires law enforcement to provide evidence that the driver had actual physical control over the vehicle or had the intent to drive while intoxicated.
The state also extends the definition of DWI to underage drivers. Drivers under the age of 21 can be arrested for and charged with DWI if they operate a motor vehicle of any kind with a BAC of 0.01 percent or higher.
DWI Penalties in New Jersey
The penalties that drivers face in New Jersey for DWI reflect their prior DWI history and the severity of their offense. The punishments range from jail terms to civil fines.
A first DWI conviction in New Jersey leads to:
- Jail up to 30 days
- A fine of $250 to $400
- 24 to 48 hours participation in the state’s Intoxicated Driver Resource Center Program or IDRC
- Three months license revocation
A first-time offender is not sentenced to community service.
A second DWI conviction garners penalties like:
- 48 hours to 90 days in jail
- A fine of $500 to $1000
- Completion of the IDRC program
- Two years license revocation
- 30 days community service
A third DWI or subsequent DWI conviction leads to:
- 180 days in jail
- $1000 fine
- IDRC program completion
- 10 years license revocation
- Up to 90 days of community service that also counts toward jail term
Drivers can incur additional DWI penalties if they had underage passengers in the vehicle with them or they committed DWI within 1000 feet of a school or through a school crossing. The penalties include a charge of disorderly persons, fines as high as $2000, up to 180 days in jail, and 20 years of having their licenses revoked.
Underage DWI in New Jersey
Drivers under the age of 21 can be charged with DWI if they are caught driving with a BAC of 0.01 percent or higher. The penalties for driving under the influence for drivers under 21 include community service sentences of 15 to 30 days.
They can also have their licenses suspended for 30 to 90 days. Teenagers with probationary licenses must complete a four hour remedial driving course and will not be allowed to get a basic drivers’ license for one year after their DWI conviction. A teenager with a learner’s permit likewise must complete the four hour remedial driving class and have his or her permit suspended for another 90 days.
Like adult offenders, underage DWI offenders must also complete the IDRC program or a similar alcohol or drug abuse program. They will undergo a mandatory evaluation to determine the level of treatment that they need. Their treatment level will depend on their evaluation as well as their blood alcohol level at the time of their arrest and their driving record.
New Jersey prohibits the act of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Drivers who are arrested for and convicted of this charge can face severe penalties like fines and jail time. They also may have to complete the state’s IDRC program or a similar program to address their alcohol or drug addiction.