New Jersey’s drunk driving laws create various stages of penalties for DWI (driving while intoxicated). There are separate penalties for a lower BAC (blood alcohol concentration) and a higher BAC, as well as DWIs based on alcohol versus DWIs based on drugs. In addition, there are different offenses for repeat offenders. If you were charged with a third-time DWI, or any DWI after that point, you could face the most serious penalties available. Atlantic City DWI defense lawyer John Zarych explains the penalties and jail time for third-time DWI charges in New Jersey.
Repeat DUI/DWI Offenses in New Jersey
If you are arrested for a first-time DWI, the penalties are different based on your level of intoxication. For alcohol-based DWIs, you face moderate penalties if your BAC is .08% or you are generally too intoxicated to drive safely. If your BAC reaches .10%, your penalties increase. Drug-based DWI charges also have these heightened penalties.
Any subsequent DWI you face within 10 years has upgraded penalties. These penalties do not automatically take into account your level of intoxication or whether you were driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This means that any repeat DWI offense is more serious, even if you were less drunk or less high the second time around.
If you are unfortunate enough to face DWI charges again after a second offense, you face the maximum possible penalties. These penalties repeat every time you are charged with DWI again beyond the third offense.
All DWI charges are brought under the same section of the New Jersey Motor Vehicles and Traffic Regulations. N.J.S.A. § 39:4-50(a) creates the DWI law, which makes it illegal to drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or to drive with a BAC of .08% or higher. It also makes it illegal to allow someone who is drunk or high to drive your car. The rest of the statute breaks down specific penalties for high-tier or repeat offenses, but they are charged under the same DWI law.
Penalties for Third-Time DWIs in NJ
If you have already faced two DWI charges, you might have a pretty good idea of what the penalties for DWI entail. Any DWI charge carries a fine, which varies for first and second DWIs. There is also the potential of:
- Jail time,
- Driver’s license suspensions,
- Community service,
- Probationary supervision,
- Driver’s education and screening,
- Court-ordered ignition interlocks, and
- Inability to register your vehicle.
These penalties are upgraded for second-time offenders, and again for third-time offenders. However, to qualify as a “second violation” or “third or subsequent violation,” the offense must have been committed within 10 years of your last DWI. If there is too long between each offense, the upgraded penalties are not automatic.
The way the statute is written, judges have little room to adjust your penalties for a third DWI. This means you will face the standard penalties of:
- $1,000 in fines,
- At least 180 days (6 months) in jail,
- A 10-year driver’s license suspension,
- Standard fees and surcharges totaling around $325,
- Potential supervision and screening as part of probation or community service,
- A potential 1-3 years of ignition interlock use,
- Potential revocation of all license plates and vehicle registrations for 10 years, and
- Education and screening at the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center (IDRC).
This jail term is listed as a minimum of 180 days. This means that there is a possibility a court could order more than 180 days, but other statutes may limit this. The DWI statute creates an opportunity to spend up to 90 days of the sentence in an outpatient facility instead of jail. As long as the facility is IDRC-approved, you may spend up to 90 days of your sentence getting treatment for alcohol or substance abuse rather than sitting in jail. This can be extremely productive and help prevent further repeat DWI offenses.
Since the judge has room to decide the final penalty beyond the demands of the 180-day minimum, you could face different penalties based on the specifics of your case. While there may be other offenses for causing death or injury while driving drunk, you could face increased penalties within your DWI offense as well.
Atlantic City DWI Defense Lawyers Offering Free Consultations on Third and Subsequent Offenses
If you are facing a third, fourth, or fifth DWI offense in NJ, it is absolutely vital that you talk to an attorney about your case. The Atlantic City criminal defense attorneys at The Law Offices of John J. Zarych represent those accused of serious offenses like DWI and fight to keep them out of jail. Facing penalties for another DWI offense can be a serious strain on your life, especially if you spend 6 months in jail. For help with your case, contact our law offices today to schedule a free, confidential consultation on your charges. Our number is (609) 616-4956.