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A Guide to New Jersey DWI Penalties in 2024

June 21, 2024

Current DUI Penalties in NJ 2024

2024 DWI penalties in New Jersey mark yet another change in the consequences of driving while drunk or drugged. While New Jersey’s stance on DWIs is firm and the penalties harsh, the latest DWI legislation signed by Governor Murphy in 2023 includes some areas where drivers can voluntarily make the outcomes of their DWI cases a little bit better. However, a DWI sentence depends on certain variables.

Lessening the Consequences of a DWI Charge with an Ignition Interlock Device in NJ

With the 2023 legislative changes to DWI penalties, a driver may now install an IID on their principal vehicle and get a license noting the IID use before the court sentences them. By being proactive, the driver can present the proper documents (proof of installation and IID-noted license) to the court for a fine waiver and to lighten some of the cost burden that comes with a DWI, including installation fees for the IID. In addition, the driver gets one day credit toward their license suspension for every two days the IID is in place, unless their DWI involved a severe injury accident, and no license suspension time before an IID installation.

How to Determine the Penalties in Your NJ DUI Case

One of the factors that affects your DWI sentence is your history. The substance involved, your age, and possibly your blood alcohol level also impact the consequences in your case. The following explains New Jersey law categorizes DUI offenses and the specific penalties based on the relevant factors in each case.

If it is Your First DWI Offense, Then:

If it is your first DWI and your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is between .08% and .10%, the potential sentence includes a maximum 30-day jail sentence (though typically not for a first offense with a BAC up to .15%), a fine of between $250.00 and $400.00, two six-hour consecutive days at an Intoxicated Drivers Resource Center (IDRC), a $1,000.00 insurance surcharge per year for three years, and a suspended license only until you install an ignition interlock device (IID), which you must maintain on your vehicle for three months.

Generally for first-time DWI offenses, when your BAC goes up, the penalties increase. So, even if you are a first-time offender, your fines and IID time increase. For a first offense and a BAC of .10% to .15%, you may spend up to 30 days in jail and two 6-hour consecutive days at an IDRC, pay $300.00 to $500.00 in fines, pay three years of an insurance surcharge of $1,000.00 per year, and have a license suspension until the IID installation, which must be maintained for seven months to one year.

If You Have no Car, Then:

And if you have no car, your license suspension lasts for as long as the IID installation period. So, a first-time offender with a .13% BAC gets a seven-month to a one-year license suspension rather than a seven-month to a one-year IID requirement.

If You are Under the Legal Drinking Age of 21, Then:

First-time offenders under the age of 21 lose their license for 30 to 90 days, spend 15 to 30 days performing community service, and attend an alcohol and traffic safety education program for a DWI conviction. A judge may also add penalties for a DWI that adults 21 or over get. The threshold for a DWI is .01 or higher, which means any amount of alcohol can lead to a DWI. Additionally, a minor under 17 without a license will face up to a 90-day delay in obtaining a driver’s license for a DWI.

If You are a Commercial Driver, Then:

Moreover, those driving with commercial vehicle licenses after a DWI conviction are subject to all penalties of a DWI defendant with a non-commercial license, except for a one-year license suspension beyond the usual first-time offense penalties. The difference for a commercial driver is the .04% drunk driving threshold and the potential loss of their career. A second DWI may lead to the permanent loss of a commercial driver’s license.

If Your DUI Charge Involves Drugs, Then:

Driving under the influence of controlled dangerous substances (CDS) is also a type of DUI, just like driving under the influence of alcohol. The difference is that a breathalyzer measures alcohol in the blood and, thus, the degree of intoxication. For drugged driving, law enforcement often uses other tests like urine testing, which can be less reliable. Also, blood tests cannot be taken without the driver’s consent. A Drug Recognition Expert is often the state’s tool for drugged driving evidence when attempting to prove its case.

Convictions for driving under the influence of drugs include somewhat similar, but somewhat different penalties from standard drunk driving. The driver pays between $300.00 and $500.00 in fines plus over $500.00 in other charges, a three-year $1,000.00 per year insurance surcharge, attending an IDRC up to 48 hours, and spending up to 30 days in jail. The critical difference is the mandatory seven months to one year driver’s license suspension, as opposed to the option to avoid license suspension through IID installation.

If it is Your Second Offense, Then:

For a second alcohol-related DWI within ten years of the last one, you can expect your sentence to include 48 hours to 90 days in jail, 30 days of community service, fines of between $500.00 and $1,000.00, a two-year license suspension, and two years with an IID during the license suspension period plus two to four years after the suspension.

A second drug DWI within ten years also includes 48 to 90 days in jail, 30 days community service, mandatory fines of $500.00 to $1,000.00, and a two-year license suspension, though the new law is silent on mandated IID for second and third drugged driving offenses.

If it is Your Third Offense, Then:

After a third alcohol-related DWI offense within ten years of the last, you face minimally six months in jail, with a possible three-month reduction for inpatient rehab program attendance as time served, a $1,000.00 fine, an eight-year license suspension, and maintenance of an IID for the eight-year suspension period plus two to four years after license reinstatement.

A third offense for driving drugged within ten years of your last is the same as the alcohol third offense penalties in some ways, including: six months minimally in jail, but credit for time served is allowed for serving up to 90 days in an IDRC-approved inpatient facility, and a $1,000.00 fine. The difference is a ten-year license suspension.

If You Refused a Breathalyzer Test, Then:

Refusing to submit to a breathalyzer test is a separate offense. The first offense leads to a suspended license until the IID installation, and then, after installation, the IID stays on the principal vehicle for 9 to 15 months.

A second refusal leads to a one-to-two-year driver’s license suspension once the IID installation occurs. The IID stays on the principal vehicle for the one-to-two-year suspension plus two to four years after the suspension ends.

The driver’s license suspension goes up to eight years for a third refusal offense. The IID must remain for the eight years plus two to four additional years once the license suspension ends.

Why is it Crucial to Get a Lawyer if You Have Been Charged with DWI?

You could be spending enormous sums and time after a DWI conviction, not to mention dealing with a license suspension, ignition interlock device, and other issues like your insurance. To save money and time, it is critical to enlist the help of a knowledgeable and experienced New Jersey DWI lawyer such as those on our team at Proetta, Oliver, & Fay. With the latest DWI law changes, defendants charged with impaired driving may plea bargain a DUI case to secure a better outcome. An up-to-date DUI attorney at our firm can work to get you lower fee payments by prompting you to get your IID early to eliminate any license suspension time if it is your first offense and your BAC is .15% or lower.

Depending on the situation, we may also be able to help you avoid a DWI altogether by getting a plea deal for a charge like reckless driving, or assist you with getting lower sentencing requirements due to a step down to a second DWI from a third or a first from a second when the DWI occurred later than ten years from the last DWI. If applicable, our DWI defense attorneys can also help you challenge the evidence against you and represent you at a trial. Call 609-850-8284 to speak with a DWI defense lawyer who can help with your case. Start with the additional guidance you need in a free consultation.

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