New Jersey DWI/DUI Laws and Penalties

An explanation of New Jersey’s intoxicated driving laws and conviction penalties.

In New Jersey, driving while intoxicated (DWI) is defined as operating a vehicle:

  • with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08% or greater, or
  • while under the influence of intoxicating liquors, narcotics, hallucinogens, or habit-producing drugs.

A driver is considered to be “under the influence” if his or her mental faculties or physical abilities are substantially diminished.

Operation of a vehicle does not always require a running engine and movement. Being in the driver’s seat and turning the ignition can qualify as operation and lead to a DWI conviction in New Jersey.

New Jersey DWI Penalties

The jail time, fines and other consequences of a DWI conviction depend on the number of prior offenses. Generally, all convictions in the driver’s lifetime are counted. But a driver with no prior convictions within the last ten years may face reduced penalties.

1st Offense

2nd Offense

3rd Offense

Jail

30 days maximum

48 hours to 90 days

180 days

Fines

$250 to $400 ($300 to $500 for BAC of .10% and drug DWIs)

$500 to $1,000

$1,000

DWI Program

12 to 48 hours

Complete program

Complete program

License Revocation

3 months (7 to 12 months for BAC of .10% and drug DWIs)

2 years

10 years

Community Service

None

30 days

90 days maximum (but credited towards jail time)

Treatment. All persons convicted of DWI must complete an alcohol and drug screening and evaluation. The convicted driver will then have to complete an Intoxicated Driver Resource Center (IDRC) program based on the screening results. Each day spent in the IDRC will cost $75 fee ($100 for second or subsequent offense). However, days completed in the program can count towards the offender’s jail sentence.

Aggravating factors. The penalties for a DWI are increased if the offense involved a minor passenger or occurred near a school.

License-Related Consequences

New Jersey’s implied consent law requires all persons lawfully arrested for DWI to submit to a breath test to determine the driver’s BAC. An unlawful refusal of a breathalyzer test will result in fines and license penalties in addition to those for a DWI conviction explained above.

Refusal. A driver who unlawfully refuses a breath test will be fined $300 to $500 for a first offense and lose his or her license for seven to 12 months. A second offense will result in a two-year license revocation and $500 to $1,000 in fines. A third offense carries a ten-year revocation and $1,000 fine. The license revocation period for a refusal will generally run consecutively to the DWI conviction revocation. But the judge can permit first-offense revocations to run together.

Ignition interlock devices (IIDs). The judge is permitted to order six months to one year of IID restriction for a first-offense DWI or test refusal. If the driver refused testing or had a BAC of .15% or more, the IID is mandatory. Any subsequent offenses require a one- to three-year IID restriction. The restriction will be visible on the driver’s license and prohibits the operation of any vehicle that is not equipped with an IID.

Underage Drivers

New Jersey drivers who are under the age of 21 are prohibited from having a BAC of .01% or more. Underage drivers who are caught driving with a BAC of .01% to .08% will face 30 to 90 days license revocation, 15 to 30 days community service, and must participate in the IDRC or a comparable treatment program.

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