Penalties for DWI and DUI in New Jersey

In the last article of our series regarding DWI law in New Jersey, we will examine the distinct and highly variable penalties associated with different driving under the influence offenses, as well as the underlying factors that drive these determinations. These potential consequences, ranging from periods of license suspension to prison terms, are contingent upon several significant factors, the implications of which are profound and far-reaching for those who are ultimately found guilty.

It must first be noted that New Jersey Law prevents prosecutors and judges from negotiating reduced sentences in DWI cases due to the seriousness with which the State addresses these offenses. In other words, the potential penalties discussed in this article are rather finite, due to the lack of discretion provided to prosecutors and judges who are involved in the adjudication of these cases.

The elements considered when determining punishments for DWI or DUI include:

  • The specific substance that caused the impairment: was the driver under the influence or alcohol or drugs?
  • The age of the driver: was he or she of legal age to consume alcohol in New Jersey (21)?
  • The number (if any) of previous DWI or DUI convictions in the driver’s motor vehicle abstract: was it the driver’s first, second, third, or subsequent offense?
  • The driver’s registered Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) if it was their first DWI offense: was the BAC reading between 0.08 and 0.10 percent, above 0.10 percent, or above 0.15 percent?
  • The location of the offense: was the offense committed in a school zone or at a school crossing?
  • The driver’s consent (or refusal) to provide a breath sample: was he or she charged with “refusal to submit to a breath test” in addition to DWI?

Depending on the answers to the aforementioned questions, penalties for driving while intoxicated and driving under the influence of drugs are delineated as follows:

Offense BAC License Suspension Fine Jail Sentence *IDRC Ignition Interlock Device
1st DWI 0.08% to 0.10% Until IID is installed in the vehicle $250-$400 Maximum 30 days 12-48 hours 3 months
1st DWI 0.10% to 1.05% Until IID is installed in the vehicle $300-$500 Maximum 30 days 12-48 hours 7 months to one year
1st DWI Above 0.15% 4 to 6 months $300-$500 Maximum 30 days 12-48 hours 9 to 15 months 
2nd DWI 1 to 2 years $500 to $1,000 Maximum 90 days 48 hours Period of license suspension and 2-4 years after license restoration
3rd DWI 8 years $1,000 Mandatory 180 days Completion of evaluation, referral, and program requirements Period of license suspension and 2-4 years after license restoration
DUI (drugs) 7 months to 1 year $300-$500 Maximum 30 days 12-48 hours
Underage DWI Above 0.01% 30 to 90 days TBD by case N/A

All in all, the nuances of DWI cases in New Jersey are extensive and often require the skill of an attorney who frequently represents clients in this realm. Due to the unique and often complex components of cases involving DWI and DUI charges, you may be best served by a knowledgeable legal professional who can conduct a thorough analysis of your case before devising a comprehensive defense strategy. For a consultation about your charges, contact my offices anytime at (908) 481-4625. I am always available to answer your questions.