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DUI/DWI Information for New Jersey

Driving under influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated/impaired (DWI) is an offence committed when a driver operates a vehicle after the consumption of alcohol or drugs or other intoxicants. Increased alcohol levels in the driver's blood lead to diminished mental and motor reactions which, in turn, reduce the driver's ability to control the vehicle. This significantly increases the risk of the driver committing errors of judgment and often results in accidents causing severe injuries and even death.

In New Jersey, as in the rest of the US, drunk driving is the single largest cause of motor vehicle related fatalities and accounts for an alarmingly high 40% to 50% of the total number of motor vehicle related deaths every year.

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REGULATIONS FOR DUI/DWI IN NEW JERSEY

In New Jersey, the Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) limit is set at 0.08% for drivers over 21 years of age and it is set at 0.01% for those under 21. For commercial drivers, the limit is set at 0.04%.

Having a New Jersey license automatically provides your consent to be tested if stopped by a law enforcement officer, while driving. This is the law of "implied consent" and can be used by the officer to test you if you are stopped on the suspicion of drunk driving, either through a breathalyser test or by an actual blood test to check the BAC. Refusing to take the chemical test may result in having to pay $1000 as Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) insurance surcharge for three years. It is treated at par with first offense of driving with BAC of 0.10% and may result in losing your driving privilege for seven months to one year.

Points will be added to your driving record and your license will be suspended or revoked, if you convicted of DUI/DWI. The number of points assessed, depend on the severity of the offense and the number of times you have been convicted for it.

ACTIONS AGAINST DUI/DWI FOR DRIVERS OVER 21:

If you are over 21 years old, and are caught with BAC higher than the set limit of 0.08%, you may be subjected to criminal actions in addition to administrative actions. If the DUI/DWI incident you are involved in is subjected to criminal action, it is recommended that you get in touch with a DUI/DWI lawyer as they are experts at handling such incidents and can offer you the best advice.

  1. The first offense of BAC between 0.08% and under 0.10% may result in imprisonment for up to 30 days and/or a $250- $400 fine. Also, if convicted for a first offense BAC or DWI or for driving under the influence of drugs (DUID):
    • Points will be added to your driving record.
    • Your driving privilege will be suspended for three months.
    • You may have to take part in an Intoxicated Driver Resource Center (IDRC) for 12-48 hours and pay IDRC fee of $230 per day.
    • You will also have to pay Alcohol Education, Rehabilitation and Enforcement Fund (AERF) fee of $100, Drunk Driving Enforcement Fund fee of $100, annual surcharge of $1000 for three years and Safe Neighborhood Services Fund fee of $75.
    • You may have to install an Ignition Interlock Device for between six months and one year.
  2. The first offense of BAC of 0.10% and above may result in imprisonment for up to 30 days and/or a $300- $500 fine.
    • Your driving privilege will be suspended for seven months to one year.
    • You may have to take part in an Intoxicated Driver Resource Center (IDRC) for 12-48 hours and pay IDRC fee of $230 per day.
    • You will also have to pay Alcohol Education, Rehabilitation and Enforcement Fund (AERF) fee of $100, Drunk Driving Enforcement Fund fee of $100, annual surcharge of $1000 for three years and Safe Neighborhood Services Fund fee of $75.
    • You may have to install an Ignition Interlock Device for between six months and one year.
  3. The second offense or two offenses in ten years is may result in imprisonment for 48- 90 days and/or up $500- $1000 fine. Also, if convicted for the second offense of DWI, DUID or BAC:
    • Points will be added to your driving record.
    • You may lose your license for two years.
    • You may have to take part in an Intoxicated Driver Resource Center (IDRC) for 12-48 hours and pay IDRC fee of $280 per day.
    • You will also have to pay Alcohol Education, Rehabilitation and Enforcement Fund (AERF) fee of $100, Drunk Driving Enforcement Fund fee of $100, annual surcharge of $1000 for three years and Safe Neighborhood Services Fund fee of $75.
    • You will have to undertake community service for 30 days.
    • You may have to install an Ignition Interlock Device for between one and three years or registration privileges will be suspended for two years.
  4. The third offense or three offenses in ten years may result in imprisonment for 180 days and/or up to a $1000 fine. Also, if convicted for the third offense of DWI, DUID or BAC:
  5. Points will be added to your driving record.
  6. You will lose your license for 10 years.
    • You may have to take part in an Intoxicated Driver Resource Center (IDRC) for 12-48 hours and pay IDRC fee of $280 per day.
    • You will also have to pay Alcohol Education, Rehabilitation and Enforcement Fund (AERF) fee of $100, Drunk Driving Enforcement Fund fee of $100, annual surcharge of $1500 for three years and Safe Neighborhood Services Fund fee of $75.
  7. You will have to undertake community service for up to 90 days and this may decrease your duration of imprisonment.
  8. You may have to install an Ignition Interlock Device for between one and three years to restore your privilege to drive or registration privilege will be suspended for ten years.

ACTIONS AGAINST DUI/DWI FOR DRIVERS UNDER 21

  1. Points will be added to your driving record and your license suspended or revoked, if you are convicted for "minor in possession/other alcohol offenses" (trying to purchase, possessing or having purchased any intoxicant; or being intoxicated using alcohol, drugs or other intoxicants; or having a BAC higher than 0.01%) while driving.
  2. The driving privilege may be suspended for 30 - 90 days after the first conviction, and suspended or revoked following the second or subsequent conviction.
  3. For the first offense you may have to undertake community service for 15-30 days. You may also have to undergo a highway safety and alcohol education or an Intoxicated Driver Resource Center (IDRC) program.
  4. If you purchase or consume alcohol at an establishment with a license for alcoholic beverages, you may have to pay a $500 fine and your license may be suspended or revoked for six months. If you do not hold a license then the suspension or revocation begins after you become eligible for it. You may have to undergo a program for alcohol treatment or education.
  5. Apart from these actions, penalties mentioned above for drivers over 21, may also apply to minors if they are convicted of DUI/DWI.

ACTIONS AGAINST DUI/DWI FOR COMMERCIAL VEHICLE DRIVERS

If you drive a commercial vehicle and hold a commercial driver license (CDL):
  1. Points will be added to your driving record and you will be barred from driving a commercial vehicle for a year, if you are convicted for your BAC being higher than 0.04%. You will also be issued an "out-of-service" order valid for 24 hours by the arresting officer.
  2. You will be barred from driving a commercial vehicle for at least three years, if you are convicted for your BAC being higher than 0.04% while transporting hazardous materials.
  3. You will be barred from driving a commercial vehicle for life if you are convicted for any of these offenses for the second time.
  4. Apart from these actions, penalties mentioned above for drivers over 21, may also apply to commercial drivers for their first and second offenses of DUI/DWI. The other penalties do not apply since they are barred after the second offense.
  5. If you refuse to submit to a test you will be barred from driving a commercial vehicle for one year for first offense and for your lifetime for the second offense.

ADMINISTRATIVE ACTIONS AGAINST DUI/DWI:

New Jersey laws have administrative implications in addition to the criminal laws against DUI/DWI. An officer may arrest a driver if:
  • He/she is aged 21 and above and is driving with BAC 0.08% or more.
  • He/she is aged below 21 and is driving with BAC 0.01% or more.
If you are arrested for DUI/DWI, the arresting officer will confiscate your New Jersey driver license, complete a notice of license suspension/revocation based on the nature of the offense along with a warrant, if applicable; and send the entire set to the MVC. The driver can schedule an administrative hearing after the notice of suspension/revocation. It is a good idea to consult a DUI/DWI lawyer beforehand. If the hearing goes against the driver, his license will be suspended or revoked based on his previous ten-year driving record. There is no provision for a Limited or Restricted License in the state of New Jersey. The suspension or revocation begins after the final order of the hearing officer is mailed from the MVC. If the administrative hearing goes against the driver, he can ask for a review from the circuit court. If the driver, however, does not request a hearing, then the suspension/revocation begins after the arrest, and is final.

LICENSE REINSTATEMENT AFTER DUI/DWI SUSPENSION/REVOCATION:

If you are convicted of DUI/DWI, it will result in your license being suspended or revoked. This means that your driving privileges will be taken away and you will need to apply for a reinstatement of your license with the MVC, once the period of suspension or revocation is over. Reinstating a license after a suspension or revocation will also mean taking the driving tests all over again. These will include the vision test, knowledge test and the road test. If you do not complete the reinstatement requirements, the license will remain suspended or revoked.
  1. To complete the reinstatement requirements, you must prove that you have successfully completed the state approved alcohol or drug abuse program or a comparable program (the agency will send the proof to the MVC once you have completed the program or you may have to provide it), pay the reinstatement fee of $100, and maintain proof of financial responsibility for a specified time from the date of suspension/revocation by filing SR-22.
  2. If you are being convicted, the court may order you to install an ignition interlock device to be placed for breathalyzer tests on any vehicle you drive.
  3. You can submit the reinstatement application and fees in person at a MVC office near you. You can also pay reinstatement fees online by Amex, Discover, MasterCard or Visa card. You can mail the documents along with a money order or check to:
    New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission
    P.O. Box 140
    Trenton, NJ 08650-0140    

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

  • DUI/DWI has been a major cause of death and injury in our nation and it is our duty to prevent such needless pain and suffering. Simply: If you drink, DON'T DRIVE! If we all follow this rule to the letter - thousands of lives will be saved each year.
  • If you have been charged with a DUI/DWI get help from a DUI/DWI Lawyer.
  • See also Suspended License, Point System and Traffic Ticket Lawyers.
  • A first offense of consuming alcoholic drinks while driving may result in $200 fine and $250 plus community service for 10 days for second offense.
  • If you are accompanied by a person aged under 18 at the time of the offense, you may lose your driving privilege for maximum six months and undertake community service for five days.
  • If you carry an open container of an alcoholic beverage, the first offense may result in a $200 fine, a second offense may result in a $250 fine and you may have to undertake community service for 10 days.
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