In New Jersey, there are multiple levels of driving while intoxicated (DWI) charges. The penalties and consequences of these charges change depending on three primary factors: the level of intoxication, the substance you used, and how many prior DWI offenses you have. There are also additional penalties for DWIs that involve other crimes or injuries. If you have been charged with a DWI in Atlantic City, the following explanations may help you understand your charges. In addition, contact the Atlantic City defense attorneys at The Law Offices of John J. Zarych today for a free consultation on your charges.

Types of DWI Charges in NJ

There is one statute that covers DWI crimes in New Jersey, but it has multiple subsections that deal with the various types of DWI. N.J.S.A. 39:4-50 makes it a crime to drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The specific conduct criminalized in this statute makes it illegal to “operate a motor vehicle” or to “[permit] another person … to operate a motor vehicle.” This means that you do not need to be driving, but could simply have the vehicle under your control. This could apply to situations where you are asleep or resting in the car with the key in the ignition. It is rarely applied, but you could also be charged with DWI if you let your friend drive your car drunk.

DWI offenses can apply to drug or alcohol intoxication. If you are under the effects of alcohol, there are two possible levels for this crime. The first “tier” of DWI covers any driving with any level of alcohol intoxication, as well as driving with a BAC of .08%-.10%. BAC (blood alcohol concentration) measures the amount of alcohol in your bloodstream. If your BAC is .10% or higher, you fall into the higher “tier” of DWI.

A DWI for drugged driving using any drugs also falls into the higher tier DWI. This typically covers situations where people drive under the effects of marijuana or other illicit drugs, but it can also apply to prescription drugs. There are many cases each year where people are charged with DWI for driving while using prescription drugs with dangerous side effects. Especially for medication like sleeping pills, driving while under their effects can be very dangerous.

New Jersey DWI Tiers Defined

DWIs are also judged in New Jersey depending on how many prior DWIs you have. A first time DWI is punished based on which tier it falls into. Second offense DWIs are treated equally, regardless of what your BAC was or whether you were under the effects of drugs or alcohol. Any third or subsequent DWIs carry the highest penalties, and are also not divided based on BAC or substance.

Penalties for New Jersey’s Different Levels of DWI

The punishments associated with DWI offenses change based on the tier of DWI and the number of prior DWIs. Each type of DWI discussed above has its own penalties under N.J.S.A. § 39:4-50.

A first time DWI with general alcohol intoxication or a BAC between .08% and .10% carries the following penalties;

  • A fine of $250-$400;
  • Up to 30 days in jail;
  • A drivers’ license suspension for 3 months;
  • Driving education for 12-48 hours, plus mandatory screening and assessment;
  • Standard fines and surcharges;
  • The possibility of using an ignition interlock; and
  • Possible probation.

A first time DWI with general drug intoxication or a BAC of .10% or higher carries the following penalties:

  • A fine of $300-$500;
  • Up to 30 days in jail;
  • A drivers’ license suspension of 7 months to 1 year;
  • Driving education for 12-48 hours, plus mandatory screening and assessment;
  • Standard fines and surcharges;
  • The possibility of using an ignition interlock; and
  • Possible probation.

For a second offense of any kind, you face the potential of:

  • A fine of $500 to $1,000;
  • At least 48 hours in jail, up to 90 days;
  • A 2-year drivers’ license suspension;
  • 30 days of community service;
  • Standard fines and surcharges;
  • Mandatory ignition interlock for 1-3 years or revocation of all vehicle registration abilities for 2 years; and
  • Possible probation.

NJ Levels of Drunk Driving

For a third or subsequent offense of any kind, you face the potential of:

  • A $1,000 fine;
  • At least 180 days in jail;
  • A 10-year drivers’ license suspension;
  • Standard fines and surcharges;
  • Mandatory ignition interlock for 1-3 years or revocation of all vehicle registration abilities for 10 years; and
  • Possible probation.

Many of these penalties are automatic for any subsequent DWIs. However, for the increased penalties to automatically apply, the second or third DWI must occur within 10 years of the last DWI. There are other penalties associated with DWI as well, such as license suspensions for refusing a breathalyzer, and other crimes for hitting someone with your car or endangering another person or passenger.

Atlantic City DWI Lawyer

If you or a loved one was charged with DWI, contact a DWI lawyer in your area today. The Atlantic City criminal defense attorneys at The Law Offices of John J. Zarych are based in Atlantic City, but represent clients on DWI charges in Egg Harbor, Atlantic City, and throughout South Jersey. For a free consultation, call (609) 616-4956 today.