New Jersey’s DWI penalties are harsh. If you’re caught driving drunk in the Garden State, at the very least you’ll lose your license for three months, pay a $250 fine, and spend 12+ hours in an Intoxicated Driver Resource Center (IDRC). That’s for your first offense.
If warranted, the judge may also be able to assess other penalties. If you’re wondering what the damage might be, read on as we list 10 factors that can dig you an even deeper legal hole.
1. Your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC)
In New Jersey, you’re legally drunk if your BAC tests at 0.08% or higher. The higher the BAC, the worse the DWI penalties. A BAC of over 0.10% nets you:
- a 7-12 month license suspension,
- $300-$500 in fines,
- 12-48 hours at the IDRC, and
- up to 30 days’ imprisonment.
If you’re a first-time offender and your BAC is 0.15% or higher, you’ll have an ignition interlock device installed in your car during the suspension period — and for 6-12 months afterward.
2. Driving High
If your intoxication is due to drugs, illegal or not, your DWI penalties will match those for BAC in excess of 0.10%.
3. Subsequent Offenses
Second offenders automatically receive:
- a $500-$1,000 fine,
- 30+ days of community service,
- 48-90 days in jail, and
- a two-year license suspension.
Subsequent offenders pay $1,000, lose their license for 10 years, and spend 180+ days in jail. Second and subsequent offenders also have ignition interlock devices installed in their cars for the license suspension period, plus 1-3 years.
4. School Zone Penalties
DWI penalties double when you’re found driving drunk or high in or near a school zone. If it’s your third or subsequent offense, you lose your license for 20 years.
5. DWI Penalties Under a Revoked or Suspended License
If you’re arrested for DWI while driving with an invalid license, you’ll not only have the new suspension for the DWI added to the end of the old suspension period, you’ll also have to pay a fine of $500-$1,000 in addition to your DWI fine. If the original suspension/revocation was for DWI, you’ll pay $500 more, lose your vehicle registration, lose your license for 1-2 year years, and spend 10-90 days in jail.
6. Refusing to Submit to a Breath Test
New Jersey is especially hard on DWI suspects who “Refuse to Submit.” Even if you’re not drunk, you’ll get a license suspension of 7-12 months (possibly added to the end of your DWI suspension), which can rise to two years if you refuse again. Refuse three times, and it’s 10 years. You’ll also get the same fines as for a DWI offense. Like the DWI arrest penalties, these penalties double in a school zone.
7. DWI With Minor
If you have a child in the car when arrested for DWI, you’ll receive a citation for “disorderly persons” in addition to the applicable DWI arrest penalties. This may result in a six-month license suspension, which can be consecutive or concurrent with the other penalties, and up to five days of days of community service.
8. Open Container
Neither you nor your passengers can drink alcohol or have an open alcohol container in the vehicle while it’s being operated. Any open container will result in the officer(s) presuming the driver was drinking. Both you and your passengers can be charged with DWI and possessing open containers; these additional offenses start with a $200 fine, and rise to $350 and 10 days of community service with subsequent offenses.
9. Traffic Violations
Unsurprisingly, you’ll have to pay the fines for any other traffic violations the officer cites you for in addition to your DWI arrest penalties. But if the officer feels those violations represented reckless driving, you may also receive up to 60 days in jail and fines of $50-$200 for a first offense. Subsequent offenses rise to 90 days imprisonment and fines of $100-$500.
Causing injuries to others while driving drunk or high will result in serious criminal penalties on top of your DWI charges. These penalties vary based on the severity of the injuries. Even minor injuries can result in 18 months’ imprisonment. Serious bodily injury or disfigurement may result in a conviction of third degree assault by auto. The penalty for this is 3-5 years in jail. Killing someone will land you a sentence of 5-10 years for second degree death by auto.
A Skilled DWI Attorney May Be Able to Help You Minimize Your DWI Penalties
Even if you really were driving while intoxicated, don’t assume you’ll have the book thrown at you. We may be able to reduce your DWI penalties. New Jersey is tough on drunk drivers. Call Samuel Louis Sachs Esq LLC for a free consultation on your case.