Many driving while intoxicated (DWI) convictions in New Jersey will come with a period of probation. This may be formal probation with supervision from a probation officer or informal probation used as a tool to enforce community service and other penalties. In any case, one popular concern for people on probation for DWI in New Jersey is whether they can continue to drink after a DWI. Atlantic City drunk driving lawyer John Zarych discusses the potential legality of drinking while on DWI probation in NJ. To schedule a free consultation on your DWI charges or probation violation hearing, contact our law offices today.
Can I Drink Alcohol After a DWI in NJ?
After being convicted of a DWI offense in New Jersey, you will face whatever penalties the judge orders. In many cases, this may include a criminal fine and a driver’s license suspension. Jail time is not common for a first offense, but probation may be used as part of your sentence. The terms of probation dictate what you can and can’t do after a conviction, and these terms will dictate whether or not you can drink alcohol.
If the judge includes “no drinking” as a term of probation, you cannot drink while on probation. The terms of your probation will typically state explicitly what you can and can’t do. These terms usually have standard, boilerplate terms that apply in most cases, including terms stating that you should not commit any further crimes For DWI, these terms may also include required participation in a visitation program or community service.
Unless the judge specifically bars you from drinking on probation, you should be allowed to consume alcohol. Of course, you must be over the age of 21 to legally consume alcohol; otherwise, you could be charged with underage drinking offenses. Barring that, nothing about a DWI conviction should automatically prevent you from drinking.
However, it is important never to drive after drinking alcohol. New Jersey law, unlike the laws of some other states, does not reduce the BAC (blood alcohol concentration) limit for people on DWI probation to .01%. However, the general DWI statute, N.J.S.A. § 39:4-50, makes it illegal to drive any time you are “intoxicated,” even if your BAC is under the “legal limit” of .08%. This can mean facing additional charges for a DWI while suspended, even if your BAC is under the typical legal limit.
If your license is suspended because of a DUI, you most certainly should not drink and drive. Driving with a suspended license is strictly prohibited in New Jersey, and penalties may be increased for a repeat DWI offense if the judge finds you committed DWI while your license was suspended.
Drinking While on DWI Suspension
Even though the law may generally permit you to drink after a DWI, you should also think about whether you should drink. It is important to analyze whether your drinking is a problem after getting a DWI and to consider alcohol treatment or rehabilitation. Working toward solving drinking problems can help you avoid future repeat DWI charges.
Judges may also be willing to work with defendants willing to seek alcohol treatment, and they may order reduced penalties if rehabilitation or attendance at Alcoholics Anonymous meetings are a part of your drunk driving probation.
What Happens if I Violate Probation After a DWI?
DWI probation is commonly “informal probation” without as many severe consequences and supervision requirements as “formal probation.” Formal probation is designed to keep tabs on a defendant by requiring them to check in with a probation officer, report their address and work status, and keep the government involved in other choices and decisions in their life. Informal probation, on the other hand, is simply a tool the court uses to apply certain requirements without strict supervision.
If you violate formal probation, your probation may be revoked, and you may be sent to jail. Formal probation is usually a “suspended sentence,” where the judge will set a backup sentence that includes jail time. This suspended sentence will be triggered if you violate your probation, and you will be sent to jail.
Violating informal probation may not trigger a harsh jail sentence, but it can still have serious penalties. The judge may set specific consequences in your case if you fail to complete certain requirements. A judge may also modify your probation if you violate the probation order, potentially adding additional terms, such as supervision, banning drinking or intoxication, seeking alcohol abuse treatment, or community service hours.
It is important to talk to your attorney about the penalties for drinking or drunk driving while on DWI probation or while your license is DWI-suspended.
Atlantic City DWI Defense Lawyers Offering Free Consultations
The Atlantic City criminal defense lawyers at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych represent defendants charged with drunk driving crimes and other offenses in New Jersey. Our lawyers work diligently to defend your rights and ensure due process in any criminal case or probation revocation hearings you might face. To schedule a free consultation on your case, contact our lawyers today at (609) 616-4956.