Driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI) laws vary from state to state. In some states, distinctions are made between DUI and DWI. Some states use the term DUI to refer to drunk driving, while some states may use the term DWI for charges of driving while impaired by alcohol, drugs, or unknown substances.
In New Jersey, DUI and DWI are used interchangeably and essentially refer to one thing: driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, which impairs one’s ability to operate a vehicle. Regardless of the term used, drunk-driving charges carry serious consequences for those who get convicted.
DUI penalties in New Jersey
In 2008, 85% of those arrested for a DUI charge were found guilty; over the last 10 years, this rate has gone down to 71%. One of the primary reasons is that there has been an increase in cases involving arrests for driving under the influence of drugs, which is more difficult to prove.
But make no mistake: a DUI conviction in New Jersey comes with severe penalties, including having your license suspended or revoked, paying huge fines, attending a DWI program, and performing community service.
If you get arrested in New Jersey for DUI, here are some things you need to know.
Penalties for a first-time drunk-driving offense
In most states, including New Jersey, first-time offenders may serve anywhere between 12 hours to 30 days of jail time. Jail time may be increased depending on the severity of the offense, such as if the driver’s blood alcohol concentration or content (BAC) is very high.
- A BAC above 0.08% but less than 0.10% – 0.08% is the threshold for a DUI charge in New Jersey. First-time offenders within this BAC threshold face penalties, including jail time, loss of driving privileges for at least three months, fines between $250 and $400, mandatory attendance in prescribed Intoxicated Driver Resource Center (IDRC) programs, and other penalties.
- Underage drivers caught driving with a BAC between 0.01% and 0.08% will have their driving privileges revoked within 30–90 days and need to comply with mandatory community service and IDRC programs.
- A BAC of 0.10% or higher – This comes with harsher penalties for first-time offenders, including driving privilege suspension between 7 and 12 months, fines between $300 and $500, up to 30 days of jail time, and other penalties. First offense DUI in a school zone raises the severity of the penalties to double or more.
Contesting a DUI charge
One of the best reasons to challenge a New Jersey DUI charge is to avoid the life-changing consequences of a wrongful conviction. Note that a conviction could count as a prior should you get involved in subsequent drunk-driving cases.
If you refuse to submit to a breathalyzer test, you will receive DUI-related charges; fines and penalties for DUI-related charges vary depending on the case.
You may also receive DUI-related charges for driving with a suspended license, reckless driving, and possessing drugs and/or drug paraphernalia while operating a vehicle.
Defending oneself against a DUI charge in New Jersey
It’s critical to immediately seek legal advice if you get arrested for DUI, as a DUI conviction in New Jersey is costly and may become complicated. It may seem practical to sort out a case on your own, but without a knowledgeable defense attorney, you may end up paying a lot of money and facing greater sanctions.
If you have questions about drunk-driving penalties and other DUI-related charges in New Jersey, contact DUI defense experts KMH&L Attorneys. Schedule a free consultation today.