NJ DWI Penalties – What are the Penalties For DWI In New Jersey? – DUI Punishments

This page highlights all of the penalties that you face for New Jersey DWI charges.

Punishments for DUI Charges in New Jersey help, attorneys

If you have been arrested for DWI in New Jersey, the penalties you face are based on two factors: How high was your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) at the time of the offense? And how many times have you been convicted of DUI in New Jersey? The higher your blood alcohol level and the more DWI convictions on your driving record, the more severe your penalties are going to be.

New Jersey DWI law considers the number of DWI offenses you’ve actually been arrested for. First offenses are not treated nearly as harshly as subsequent offenses and the penalties get much worse each time you violate NJ Section 2C:39-4:50.

In addition to the number of offenses, the main factor in determining the severity of your charge is the measurement of how drunk you actually were when arrested. The Breathalyzer measures the level of alcohol that you’ve consumed by determining your blood alcohol content or “BAC”.  This is that actual percentage of your blood stream that is made of alcohol at the time of your arrest. New Jersey police use a machine called the Dräger Alcotest 7110 MK III-C as their breath testing machine.

Now bigger people can drink more alcohol without raising their BAC as much as smaller people.  Sometimes small people can handle their alcohol better than people twice their size, but all that matters is the machine’s reading, not how drunk you felt when you were pulled over.  The Breathalyzer’s numbers determine how much trouble you’ve gotten yourself into.

Driving a car with anything over a 0.08% Blood Alcohol Content is illegal in New Jersey.  That said, I’ve seen people tried and convicted for DWI with levels below 0.8%. It’s hard to believe, but it happens.

Punishments for First DWI Offense in NJ

In reality, only first offense DWI penalties depend on your blood alcohol content.  After your first offense, the penalties become constant, regardless of your BAC.

The first level of DWI punishment is for BAC levels of 0.08% to 0.10%.  If your blood alcohol is in this range, you face:

  1. Fines of $250- $400
  2. Jail time of up to 30 days
  3. Loss of driver’s license until ignition interlock device installed
  4. Intoxicated Driver Resource Center for 12-48 hours
  5. Ignition Interlock device for 3 months

The next level of punishment exists for BAC levels above .10% but less than .15% during a first offense.  For these you face:

  1. Fines of $300 to $500
  2. Jail time of up to 30 days
  3. Loss of driver’s license until interlock installed
  4. Intoxicated Driver Resource Center for 12-48 hours
  5. Mandatory Ignition Interlock device for 7 months to 1 year

The next level of punishment exists for all BAC levels above .15% for a first offense: For these you face:

  1. Fines of $300 to $500
  2. Jail time up to 30 days
  3. Driver’s license suspension of 4-6 months
  4. Intoxicated Driver Resource Center for 12-48 hours
  5. Mandatory Ignition Interlock device for 9 to 15 months

Second DWI Penalties in New Jersey

Again, if you’re being arrested for a second time, your BAC doesn’t matter.  Anything over 0.08% and you’re facing the same punishment:

0.08% and above BAC:

  1.  Fines of $500 to $1,000
  2.  Jail time of up to 90 days
  3.  Loss of driver’s license for one to two (2) years
  4.  IDRC for 48 hours
  5.  Community service for 30 days
  6.  Mandatory interlock device for 2 to 4 years (in addition to period of license suspension).

Potential Sentence for 3rd & Subsequent DUI Charges

These are the penalties for a third DWI offense in NJ and any offense after that at a BAC level of 0.08% and above:

  1.  Fines totaling $1,000
  2.  Jail time for 180 days
  3.  Loss of driver’s license for eight (8) years
  4.  IDRC is determined on a case-by-case basis
  5.  Mandatory interlock device for 2 to 4 years (in addition to the period of license suspension)

Understanding NJ DUI Sentencing

When it comes to the possible punishments for DWI in New Jersey, I’m sure you don’t need to hear about jail time.  I don’t need to tell you that sitting in a cell for 23 hours per day with two random criminals is a horrible way to spend a month.  You will be hungry, incredibly bored, and uneasy for every moment you spend in prison.

Fines are pretty self-explanatory.  You’re going to end up paying for your mistakes and the municipality that arrested you is going to make a profit.  This is of course in addition to the massive increase in your automobile insurance.  It’s the little stuff like this that really adds up over the course of time.

The loss of license is also self-explanatory.  You’re going to have to figure out how to get to work every day without a car and find some way to accomplish all of the other countless things that we typically rely on our vehicles to do.  Your social life will take a hit, and little things like shopping become a heavy chore.

IDRC is the New Jersey “Intoxicated Driver Resource Center“.  You’re going to have to sit in a room with a bunch of other folks who have been arrested for DWI and you’re going to have to learn about the potential effects of your actions when driving drunk.  You will listen to lectures, watch movies, and undoubtedly be exposed to the horror stories associated with driving while intoxicated.  This is an educational program, and it’s not something that you want to experience.

The ignition interlock device on your car is a safety precaution that prevents you from driving drunk.  In order to start your car, you will have to blow into a miniature Breathalyzer to prove to vehicle that you’re not intoxicated.  This is just a pain in the neck, but it could certainly be seen as embarrassing.  Blowing into your interlock device is not the best way to start a date on Friday night.

It is important to note that prosecutors are not allowed to negotiate in DWI cases. In other words, the prosecutor in your case cannot allow you to take a plea in exchange for lesser penalties. The punishments you face if convicted of driving under the influence in New Jersey cannot be reduced.

“If you’ve just been arrested for a DWI, you could face some serious fines and punishments. Fortunately, you can potentially avoid them entirely.”

If you have an experienced New Jersey DWI lawyer fighting on your behalf, you should not be faced with these punishments. A skilled attorney can use a variety of defense strategies to secure a dismissal in your case.  The Tormey Law Firm is a team of highly skilled New Jersey DWI Attorneys, including a former NJ DUI prosecutor, committed to achieving the best possible results.  We fight cases with our intention being to win.  For more information, please call our office at 201-556-1570 for a free consultation about your case. You can also go back to our main DWI page, where you can learn How To Beat DWI Charges and answer any other questions that you might have about DWI  in New Jersey.


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If you've been charged with a criminal offense, disorderly persons offense, or traffic / DWI violation, you have the right to an attorney who will defend you against your charges and fight for your best interests. To learn more about how your attorney can fight to have your charges dismissed or reduced, click a link below to see our video library of legal defenses and strategies.

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