Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is incredibly dangerous and illegal in New Jersey. Motor vehicles are extremely heavy and capable of reaching high rates of speed. If the operator of a motor vehicle is drunk and cannot control the vehicle, a serious accident may result. Given the hazardous nature of drunk driving, the State of New Jersey imposes serious penalties for people convicted of driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol (DWI).
The penalties are severe if you are convicted of driving while intoxicated (DWI/DUI), commonly called “drunk driving” in the state of New Jersey. Penalties will differ depending on your unique circumstances. A repeat offender who injures another person while drunk driving will be punished more harshly than a first-time offender. Drunk driving may cost you your driver’s license and you may have to pay expensive fines.
If you are pulled over and arrested, you should contact an attorney immediately. The penalties for drunk driving can pose a significant burden on your life and may have long-lasting consequences. Our New Jersey DWI attorneys can help you fight your charges and get your life back. Call the Law Offices of John J. Zarych at (609) 616-4956 to arrange a confidential and free legal consultation.
Drunk Driving Penalties in New Jersey
In New Jersey, drunk driving is technically not a “crime.” New Jersey is different than most other states because it does not label criminal offenses as felonies or misdemeanors. Instead, the state refers to serious offenses as “crimes” and less serious offenses as “disorderly persons offenses.”
Drunk driving or DWIs are not considered crimes or disorderly persons offenses because they are not criminal violations. DWIs are technically traffic violations and are governed by the New Jersey Motor Vehicles and Traffic Regulations rather than the Code of Criminal Justice. However, DWIs are considered “quasi-criminal” offenses because of their serious penalties and the fact that you are afforded many similar procedural protections.
Penalties often include heavy fines, the loss of your driver’s license, and even time in jail. The extent and nature of your penalties will vary depending on your situation. A person charged with their very first DWI may face somewhat more lenient penalties than someone charged with their second or third. Similarly, a drunk driver who injures a pedestrian, passenger, or other driver is subject to much harsher penalties and possibly criminal charges.
At the Law Offices of John J. Zarych, our lawyers for drunk driving penalties have a track record of success defending clients throughout New Jersey against drunk driving charges. You can count on us for aggressive and personalized representation that aims at reducing or completely preventing the penalties you face.
DWI Penalties for a First Time Offense in New Jersey
A first-time offender charged with a DWI will face somewhat lesser penalties compared to someone with multiple DWIs on their record. The extent of your penalties will also depend on your level of intoxication as measured by your blood alcohol concentration (BAC).
If this is your first DWI, and your BAC is at least .08% but under .10%, you may be made to pay a fine of at least $250 but not more than $400. You could also be detained in jail for up to 30 days at the discretion of the court. You may also be forced to give up your driver’s license until you install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle. This device will prevent your vehicle from starting if it detects any alcohol in your system.
If your BAC is higher, at least .10% or you were driving under the influence of drugs, your fine will be at least $300 but no more than $500. Also, you could be held in jail for up to 30 days. You will also lose your driving privileges until you install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle.
If you have an even higher BAC of at least .15%, you will lose your license for at least 4 months but no more than 6 months. Also, once you can drive again, you will have to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle.
Under no circumstances are there provisional, work, or hardship driver’s licenses available in New Jersey when one’s license is suspended for a DWI/DUI. For help with your first DWI, contact our Atlantic City DUI lawyers today.
DWI Penalties for a Second Offense in New Jersey
For a second DWI violation, the penalties mentioned for a first offense will be increased. This means fines, jail time, and the duration of license suspension will be greater.
The fines imposed for a second DWI violation are at least $500 but not more than $1,000. You may also be ordered to perform 30 days of community service and sentenced to a jail term of not less than 48 hours but not more than 90 days. You will also lose your driver’s license for at least one year but no longer than 2 years.
To get your license reinstated after your suspension is over, you must appeal your case to the Chief Administrator of the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission. Your request is not guaranteed and may be denied at the discretion of the Chief Administrator. If your license is reinstated, you must install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle.
If you are facing your second DWI violation, you need a qualified attorney to fight your charges. Call our Atlantic County DWI attorneys for assistance with your case.
DWI Penalties for a Third Offense in New Jersey
For a third conviction, the period of driver’s license suspension is a minimum of 8 years and the jail term is mandatory 180 days, or 90 days of county jail plus 90 days (at your own expense) in an approved inpatient drug/alcohol rehabilitation facility. Plus, the fines are increased to $1,000. If your license is ever reinstated, you will also be required to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle.
For purposes of determining if any prior DWI convictions exist, the court may consider violations that occurred in other states. These violations can be for DWIs or other violations that would constitute a DWI if committed in New Jersey. Get in touch with our New Jersey DWI lawyers to help you with charges.
Increased Penalties and Additional Criminal Consequences for DWIs in New Jersey
In each of the above cases, the penalties may be doubled if the conviction occurs in a school zone. Moreover, exposure may be greatly enhanced if DWI charges are coupled with other traffic or criminal charges. For example, if you had been driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs and an accident occurs, or your driving causes bodily injury to another person, such acts can be prosecuted as a crime with the risk of a state prison sentence being imposed.
DWIs are commonly connected to other criminal charges, especially when drunk driving causes someone to get hurt. If someone were to be killed in an accident caused by your DWI, you could be charged with reckless vehicular homicide, which is a second-degree crime. Second-degree crimes are typically punished by at least 5 years in prison but not more than 10 years.
DWI penalties will also be enhanced if certain conditions exist at the time of the DWI. For example, driving drunk with an underage passenger in the vehicle may enhance your penalties. You could lose your license for up to 6 months and possibly face criminal charges related to endangering a minor.
If you think you may be subject to enhanced penalties or additional criminal charges, please call our New Jersey DWI attorneys right away.
Call Our New Jersey Defense Lawyers for Help with Drunk Driving Penalties
Have you been arrested for drunk driving in New Jersey? Contact our experienced New Jersey DWI attorneys by calling (609) 616-4956. We are available seven days a week, including holidays.