Recent Changes to New Jersey’s Driving While Intoxicated Penalties
Posted by Scott Gorman - February 4, 2020

Driving while intoxicated or under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a serious criminal offense in New Jersey. Driving while intoxicated (DWI) charges have significant legal and financial consequences, including loss of driving privileges, fines and jail time. Not only do penalties increase based on the level of alcohol intoxication as measured by blood alcohol content, or BAC, but penalties are more severe for repeated offenses. Just like the increased penalties for alcohol-related offenses, drug-related DWI penalties become more severe with repeated offenses. New Jersey recently updated its driving while intoxicated penalties, effective December 2019. Especially now that the penalties have changed, consulting with an experienced DWI criminal defense attorney is crucial in these situations.

How Can a DWI Attorney in New Jersey Help?

People wonder what a defense attorney may do in a DWI case, as it seems pretty straightforward; however, criminal charges can be complex. A responsive DWI attorney can represent you in court hearings, examine and challenge the evidence and, if there is any evidence that was improperly obtained, the attorney can prevent it from being used against you in court. A skilled attorney can also help you navigate the new DWI penalties in New Jersey and negotiate on your behalf if there is any opportunity to reduce charges.

New Penalties for DWI in New Jersey

Previously, the penalties for DWI in New Jersey always included one’s driver’s license being suspended for a period of time. In theory, this was an effective penalty, as the inconvenience of not having driving privileges should deter driving while intoxicated. However, it was not a practical solution. Many people still drove on suspended licenses to go about their daily business, as they relied on private transportation to get to work, run errands and use childcare across the community. Driving suspensions impacted the driver’s ability to go to work, and the loss of income made it more difficult to pay fines, which added to the individual’s legal problems. Drivers who still drove on a suspended license broke the law and added to their legal troubles.

Penalties are designed to punish the current crime and deter future crime. In DWI cases, the goal is to deter driving while intoxicated and technology provides another solution — the interlock ignition device. This technology prevents driving while intoxicated through frequent monitoring and it allows drivers to still go about their business as long as they are not intoxicated. Below, we’ve included a list of the revised penalties.

First Offense DWI

BAC less than .10% or no BAC

  • Fine: $250 to $400
  • Intoxicated Driver Resource Center (“IDRC”): Twelve to forty-eight hours and must comply with recommendations of IDRC
  • Jail: Up to 30 days
  • Loss of driving privileges: Until ignition interlock device is installed
  • Ignition interlock device: Three months

BAC .10% or greater, but less than 0.15%

  • Fine: $300 to $500
  • IDRC: Twelve to forty-eight hours and must comply with recommendations of IDRC
  • Jail: Up to 30 days
  • Loss of driving privileges: Until ignition interlock device is installed
  • Ignition interlock device: Seven to twelve months

BAC 0.15% or greater

  • Fine: $300 to $500
  • IDRC: Twelve to forty-eight hours and must comply with recommendations of IDRC
  • Jail: Up to 30 days
  • Loss of driving privileges: Four to six months after the ignition interlock device is installed
  • Ignition interlock device: During period of loss of driving privileges and nine to fifteen months after driving privileges are restored and an ignition interlock device is installed

Drug Intoxication

  • Fine: $300 to $500
  • IDRC: Twelve to forty-eight hours and must comply with recommendations of IDRC
  • Jail: Up to 30 days
  • Loss of driving privileges: Seven to twelve months

Second Offense DWI

  • Fine: $500 to $1,000
  • IDRC: Must comply with recommendations of IDRC
  • Jail: Two to ninety days and two days may be served at IDRC
  • Loss of driving privileges: One to two years, after which, application must be made to the Chief Administrator of the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission for restoration of driving privileges
  • Ignition interlock device: During period of loss of driving privileges and for two to four years after restoration of driving privileges
  • Community Service: Thirty days

Third Offense DWI

  • Fine: $1,000
  • IDRC: Must comply with recommendations of IDRC
  • Jail: 180 days
  • Loss of driving privileges: Eight years
  • Ignition interlock device: During period of loss of driving privileges and for two to four years after restoration of driving privileges

Refusal (N.J.S.A. 39:4-50.4a)

First Offense

  • Fine: $300 to $500
  • IDRC: Twelve to forty-eight hours and must comply with recommendations of IDRC
  • Loss of driving privileges: Until ignition interlock device is installed
  • Ignition interlock device: Seven to twelve months

Second offense

  • Fine: $500 to $1,000
  • IDRC: Must comply with recommendations of IDRC
  • Loss of driving privileges: One to two years after installation of an ignition interlock device
  • Ignition interlock device: During period of loss of driving privileges and for two to four years after restoration of driving privileges

Third or subsequent offense

  • Fine: $1,000
  • IDRC: Must comply with recommendations of IDRC
  • Loss of driving privileges: Eight years, after installation of an ignition interlock device
  • Ignition interlock device: During period of loss of driving privileges and for two to four years after restoration of driving privileges

Interlock Device

One of the most noticeable changes to the DWI penalties in New Jersey is the mandatory requirement that an ignition interlock device be installed in a vehicle owned, leased, or principally operated by the person convicted of DWI or Refusal. Under the new penalties, an ignition interlock device is required for a first offense DWI in order to maintain driving privileges. The higher the driver’s BAC for a first offense, the longer the interlock will be required. The interlock device must be installed in the vehicle and it will prompt the driver to periodically blow into the device to detect the driver’s BAC. If alcohol is detected, then the device will prompt the driver to pull over and the car will stop operating. The driver must also pay maintenance fees and have the device serviced frequently. The benefit of requiring the interlock device is that the driver can continue driving instead of forfeiting his or her driving privileges.

Intoxicated Driver Resource Center

The Intoxicated Driver Resource Center provides programming and education for persons convicted of alcohol or drug-related traffic offenses in New Jersey. Depending on the charge and number of offenses, the required participation in the IDRC program can be twelve hours over two days up to 48 hours over more days.

Contact a Skilled DWI Defense Attorney Today

Do not navigate the new DWI penalties alone. If you find yourself facing DWI charges in New Jersey, consult with DWI defense attorney Scott Gorman as soon as possible. Call 210-489-9199 or inquire online now.




Published in Categories: DUI / DWI