man's hand holding a breathalyzer piece in front of a car steering wheel

New Jersey DWI Penalties

If you are facing drunk driving charges in New Jersey, you may be subject to serious DWI penalties, including fines, license suspension, alcohol education programs, and even jail time.

At William Proetta Criminal Law, we offer comprehensive legal representation. Our New Jersey DWI defense lawyers are ready to build a robust defense to help you avoid the potentially severe consequences of a DWI conviction.

Contact us today for a free and confidential case review.

What Are the Penalties for a DWI in New Jersey?

New Jersey law dictates that a person may be found guilty of drunk driving if they drive a vehicle while they have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of at least 0.08 percent.

DWI penalties in NJ are assessed with a tiered system based on factors including BAC and prior criminal convictions:

  • First Offense – If your BAC is more than 0.08 percent and under 0.10 percent, the penalties for a first offense include a $250-400 fine, jail time of 30 days at most, forfeiture of your driver’s license until the installation of an ignition interlock device (which must be used for three months), and two consecutive six-hour days in an Intoxicated Driver Resource Center (IDRC). Further, your auto insurance will levy a surcharge of $1,000 annually for three years. If your BAC is between 0.10-0.15, the fine increases to $300-500 for a first offense, and the ignition interlock is required for between 7 and 12 months, in addition to the other penalties for the lower BAC. However, if your BAC is 0.15 or more, the ignition interlock is required during your license suspension and an additional 9 to 15 months after your license is restored.
  • Second Offense – A second DWI offense carries an increased fine from $500 to $1,000, from 48 hours to 90 days in prison, a minimum license suspension of one year with the possibility of up to two years, completion of Intoxicated Driver Resource Center requirements, community service for 30 days, $1,000 surcharge on your auto insurance for three years, and installation of the ignition interlock device for the entire period your license is suspended and for the two- to four-year period after your license is restored.
  • Third Offense – The fine is increased to $1,000 for a third offense and 180 days in prison, subject to the court’s discretion concerning alternative treatment options. The insurance surcharge increases to $1,500 per year for three years. In addition to the remaining penalties for a second offense, your license will be suspended for eight years for a third DWI offense.

Understanding DWI Sentencing in New Jersey

At William Proetta Criminal Law, we understand that you may be confused about the penalties you may face after an arrest for drunk driving in New Jersey. Although you probably know what the potential fines, jail time, and license suspension mean, you may be unfamiliar with the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center (IDRC) and the ignition interlock device you are subject to, even as a first-time offender.

At the IDRC, you will be educated about the hazards of drunk driving. You will sit alongside other offenders, listen to lectures, and watch films about the dangers and sometimes fatal effects of drunk driving.

The ignition interlock device is installed in your vehicle to prevent you from driving after drinking. To start your car, you must blow into a breathalyzer to show you are not intoxicated. The length of time the ignition interlock device must be used varies depending on your BAC and the number of previous offenses.

Fees Associated with DWI Conviction in NJ

In addition to the fines based on the number of previous DWI convictions, you will have to pay more fees. Specifically, you will be ordered to pay a $100 surcharge in the Drunk Driving Enforcement Fund, a $100 restoration fee to the Motor Vehicle Commission, a $100 fee to the Intoxicated Driving Program, a $50 fee to the Violent Crimes Compensation Fund, and a $75 fee for the Safe and Secure Community Program.

The New Jersey municipality where the alleged violation occurred will profit from your mistakes by collecting these fees. You can also expect a dramatic increase in your car insurance premiums.

Common Defenses for Minimizing DWI Penalties in NJ

Common defenses to minimize DWI penalties in New Jersey often involve eliminating evidence through motions to suppress. Your attorney might attempt to have your charges dismissed by suppressing evidence related to the traffic stop, your breath test and chemical test results, and any statements you made before receiving a Miranda warning.

An experienced New Jersey DWI defense attorney may develop your defense strategy related to the following circumstances:

  • Your initial traffic stop – One ground to suppress evidence in a DWI case is related to why the police pulled you over. Law enforcement must have a reasonable suspicion of illegal activity before stopping you. Further, they must have probable cause to arrest you for DWI, such as smelling alcohol on your breath if you were observed weaving in and out of traffic, for example. If the police car’s dashboard camera footage or surveillance videos from a local business showed that you were appropriately changing lanes, you could challenge whether the officer had a reasonable suspicion to pull you over by filing a motion to suppress evidence from the traffic stop.
  • Your breathalyzer test – If you are stopped by a police officer who suspects you have been drinking, you may have to take a breathalyzer test. The DWI penalties you may face as a first-time offender in New Jersey depend on your blood alcohol content at the traffic stop. Your attorney may advise you that a motion to suppress the results of the test is necessary if the evidence shows the test was not conducted via a reliable method, the officer was not adequately trained in administering the test, or the breathalyzer machine was not properly maintained in such a way as to yield accurate results.
  • Your incriminating statements – If you were not read your Miranda rights before the police asked you about whether you were drinking, your attorney may attempt to suppress any potentially incriminating statements you made before receiving the Miranda warnings.

Contact the DWI Lawyers at William Proetta Criminal Law in New Jersey

At William Proetta Criminal Law, we have extensive experience assisting individuals charged with DWI in New Jersey. Our attorneys strive to minimize penalties, work to have DWI charges dismissed or reduced, and help our clients navigate the New Jersey criminal court system. We offer personalized legal services to assist you during a difficult time in your life.

Contact us today for a free and completely confidential case review.