I Was Charged with a DWI but I Didn’t Feel Drunk in New Jersey


As in all other states, the legal limit for alcohol-related intoxication in New Jersey is a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 or higher. Some drivers may “feel drunk” with a BAC lower than the legal limit, while other drivers may not feel intoxicated even with a BAC of much higher than the legal limit.

The key question in a DWI case is whether alcohol impaired the driver’s faculties or abilities to operate a motor vehicle. Therefore, if prosecutors can establish that alcohol impaired your driving abilities, you can still be charged with a DWI. Officer observations and performance on field sobriety tests are often used as evidence that you were driving while impaired by alcohol, even if the exact BAC is unknown or under the legal limit. In fact, if you refuse to submit to a breathalyzer test in New Jersey, you will still face the same penalties you otherwise would when arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated.

Even if you don’t believe you were drunk, you can still be charged with a DUI, which is why it is important to contact a New Jersey DWI attorney about your case. The field sobriety tests or breathalyzer test may have been conducted incorrectly, which could lead to the results being thrown out. An attorney with experience handling drunk driving charges will investigate the DWI stop and subsequent arrest to ensure your legal rights were not violated. In many instances, an error in police procedure can be used to argue for a dismissal of drunk driving charges.

What if I’m Convicted of Drunk Driving in NJ?

The penalties associated with DWI a conviction in NJ depend on several factors, including the level of intoxication, the age of the defendant, and the defendant’s previous DWI convictions (if any).

If convicted of First Offense DWI with a BAC of 0.08 or higher, you face up to:

  • 30 days in jail
  • A fine of up to $500 depending on your BAC level
  • Suspended driver’s license for up to one year depending on BAC level
  • 12 to 48 hours in an IDRC (Intoxicated Driver Resource Center)
  • Insurance surcharge of $1,000 per year for three years
  • An enforcement charge of $100
  • Ignition interlock device for six months to one year

A conviction for a Second Offense DWI carries many of the same punishments, including the insurance surcharge, enforcement surcharge, and spending up to 48 hours at an IDRC. However, the severity of the other penalties increases with a second offense. Your driver’s license is suspended for two years, the fine increases to a maximum of $1,000, and you could be in jail for up to 90 days. You also could be assigned up to 30 days of community service.

When the conviction is for a Third Offense DWI or subsequent offense, the penalties increase substantially. Your driver’s license will be suspended for ten years, and you face a mandatory fine of $1,000. In addition, you could serve up to 180 days in jail and be assigned up to 90 days community service. These penalties are in addition to the IDRC, surcharge, and ignition interlock device punishments.

It is also important to keep in mind that New Jersey has a zero-tolerance policy for anyone under the age of 21 years when it comes to DWI. If there is any alcohol in the young person’s system, he or she can be charged with violating the state’s alcohol laws. In the case of an underage driver who is under the influence, he or she may be charged with a crime, even if the BAC is under the state’s legal limit. If the BAC is over the legal limit and the young person is convicted of DWI, he or she faces the same penalties as a driver convicted of DWI who is over the age of 21 years.

Charged with Drunk Driving in Middlesex County, NJ?

Don’t delay in contacting an experienced DWI defense lawyer who can thoroughly investigate your case. At William Proetta Criminal Law, our skilled DWI attorneys conduct a comprehensive evaluation to identify any and all weaknesses in the State’s case against you. We always seek to undermine the credibility of the prosecution’s evidence and work toward a dismissal whenever possible. If you have been arrested for a DUI in the Middlesex County, New Jersey area, our attorneys regularly defend against drunk driving charges in Woodbridge, Old Bridge, New Brunswick, Edison, Piscataway, Metuchen, and communities throughout the area. Contact us now at (732) 659-9600 for a free and confidential consultation with a DUI defense attorney who will fight for you.

With more than a decade of experience defending clients against criminal charges, founding partner William A. Proetta has successfully handled and tried thousands of cases, from DWI to murder. As a New Jersey native, he has focused his career on helping people in the area where he grew up, serving Middlesex, Ocean, Hudson, and Union counties.