Drivers who violate the DUI laws in New Jersey incur several penalties, which are managed by the NJ Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) and the presiding courts to improve the safety of drivers.

When an NJ DWI conviction is reported on a driver’s record, he or she may be subjected to a jail sentence of a specific length. Learn more about the drunk driving laws in New Jersey and the consequences that may arise from violating such laws by reading the sections below.

New Jersey DUI Citations and Convictions

Drivers will receive a DWI ticket in New Jersey if stopped by law enforcement on suspicion of committing a DWI within the state. When subjected to a DWI arrest, drivers are requested to submit to a breathalyzer test to determine their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level. Drivers are charged with DUI if they are found to have a BAC level over the legal limit or refuse to undergo testing.

License suspensions administered after a first DUI conviction for driving with a high BAC are less than the penalties issued for refusing to take the breath test. If you are convicted of a DUI violation in court, you will be subjected to certain criminal penalties such as large fines, administrative surcharges and jail sentences.

New Jersey Under the Influence Violations and Penalties

Licensees who violate the New Jersey impaired driving laws are punished with several types of penalties which vary based on factors such as the driver’s age and the number of previous convictions on record.

The severity of the charges and resulting consequences also vary based on whether or not the driver has violated additional laws. For example, drivers who commit a DUI offense in a school zone will be penalized with longer suspensions, larger fines and increased jail sentences.

First DUI Offense

Convictions of first DUI violations in New Jersey are sanctioned with license suspensions of three months and fines of $250 to $400. First DWI convictions will also result in the mandatory detainment in one of the state Intoxicated Driver Resource Centers (IDRC) and a jail sentence of up to 30 days.

First-time offenders with a BAC of .10 or larger will have their license suspended for up to 12 months and incur fines of up to $500.

Second DUI Offense

Second DUI convictions result in driver’s license suspensions of 2 years and maximum fines in the amount of $1,000. Violating driving under the influence laws for the second time will also lead to a 30-day community service sentence and a prison term of up to 90 days. Motorists will also be required to install an ignition interlock device during the suspension term and up to 1 year after the license restoration.

Third DUI Offense

Drivers who commit a DUI offense in New Jersey for the third time are penalized with a 10-year license suspension and a minimum fine of $1,000.

The current jail sentence for third convictions is set at 180 days, whereas the maximum community service sentence is 90 days. Regardless of the number of previously-committed violations, motorists will be required to attend DUI classes in an IDR center.

Underage DUI

Motorists younger than 21 years of age who violate the DUI laws in New Jersey will be charged with an underage DUI. The minimum penalties administered in for these charges include a license suspension of up to 90 days and a community service sentence of 15 to 30 days. Young drivers will also be required to participate in the state IDRC program or another DUI defensive driving program.

Drinking and Driving in New Jersey

Due to the contributing role of intoxicants in New Jersey DUI offenses resulting in injuries and fatalities of drivers, passengers and pedestrians, state law enforcement agencies have strict laws on drunk driving.

Since the risk of committing a DUI increases with the amount of alcohol present in the driver’s system, the severity of the administered penalties also increases for violations that involve a high BAC level.

Repeat offenders are penalized with greater fines, license suspensions and prison term sentences. DUI violations in New Jersey will also result in certain long-term consequences, such as the installation of an ignition interlock device and mandatory annual surcharges that must be paid to the MVC.

New Jersey DUI Attorneys

Even if drivers may be unable to avoid a New Jersey DWI conviction on their driving records, the various benefits of hiring a good defense attorney justify the additional cost. By obtaining the services of an experienced DUI lawyer in NJ, motorists will be able to rely on a professional with profound knowledge of state laws who can assist them in preparing their court defense.

Your lawyer will take into consideration the circumstances surrounding your conviction before advising you on the type of plea that you should enter. By doing so, you will minimize the consequences of your DUI conviction. When seeking help from an attorney, conduct the necessary research of the credentials and past experiences of several candidates to ensure you hire the best lawyer for your needs.

New Jersey Open Container Laws

As part of the New Jersey drunk driving laws, motorists are also prohibited from drinking or carrying open or unsealed alcoholic drink containers in a vehicle, unless the container is in a compartment out of reach of the driver. This NJ DWI law was implemented to reduce the risk of drivers committing a DUI by removing the access to alcohol during vehicle operation.

Motorists can avoid incurring a fine and a potential community service sentence by transporting any alcoholic beverage containers in the vehicle’s storage compartment.

Reinstating a Suspended Drivers License in New Jersey

The duration of a New Jersey DUI drivers license suspension varies based on the number of previous convictions on a driver’s record.

Motorists who have violated drunk driving laws will be able to resume their driving activities only after the conclusion of this penalty period. To successfully restore a DUI suspended license in NJ, drivers are typically required to meet the following reinstatement requirements:

  • Meet the court-set obligations, such as paying the fine, complete the suspension period and any community service and/or jail sentences.
  • Participate in a mandatory DUI course.
  • Pay any additional fees and surcharges.
  • Provide proof of a valid car insurance coverage (if required).
  • Install an ignition interlock device.

Reinstating licenses that were suspended as a result of a DWI conviction in NJ is a procedure that can be completed by paying the restoration fee to the MVC. The list above is not all-inclusive. Actual requirements depend on the circumstances surrounding your violation.

Note: As part of the procedure to reinstate a DUI suspended license, certain states require the submission of a certificate of insurance (Form SR-22). Inquire through a local MVC location whether or not you must file this insurance form.

New Jersey Alcohol Awareness Classes

Drivers who are facing DUI charges must spend a certain amount of time at an Intoxicated Driver Resource Center in order to attend the classes at the New Jersey Intoxicated Driving Program. Motorists who have violated New Jersey driving laws will be required to attend the IDRC alcohol and highway safety education program for 12 to 48 hours.

The IDRC DUI course is a type of a traffic school program that emphasizes the role of alcohol and/or drugs in DUI and DWI violations within the state.

New Jersey Laws That Pertain to DUI/DWI

To avoid severe New Jersey DUI penalties, motorists must abide by the state impaired driving laws. Law enforcement agencies give DUI charges to motorists who operate their vehicles with a BAC level greater than the set legal limit, which varies based on the age of the driver and the type of license he or she has.

Drivers younger than 21 years of age, for instance, are at risk of a DWI arrest in NJ even if they operate a vehicle with a BAC level of .01 percent. Adult motorists, on the other hand, must not drive if their BAC is greater than .07 percent. Commercial operators will be charged with a DUI if they drive with a BAC level of .04 or greater, due to the nature of their job.

Hardship License in New Jersey

While completing a DUI drivers license suspension in New Jersey, motorists will be prohibited from operating their vehicles until they complete the MVC license restoration procedure. Certain states offer hardship licenses to drivers convicted of a DUI, which will grant them limited driving privileges to and from destinations such as places of employment or educational institutions.

However, suspended New Jersey motorists will not be allowed to drive, regardless of the reason, while a DUI suspended license is in effect on their record, as the state MVC does not currently issue this type of credential. To learn if and when this option becomes available, contact a nearby MVC office.

Last updated on Wednesday, March 4 2020.