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 “lookback” 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.