New Jersey DWI Penalties & Consequences
Wondering if pleading guilty might be a better option than mounting a defense?
New Jersey is tough on intoxicated drivers. Here, you’ll learn what to expect if you’re convicted.
What Happens If I’m Convicted of DWI in New Jersey?
In general, New Jersey’s penalties after a DUI conviction fall into four different categories:
1. License Suspension
If you are convicted, your driving privileges in New Jersey will be suspended. A license suspension can result in loss of employment, changed social relationships, and many other life-altering events.
2. Fines & Surcharges
New Jersey will definitely hit you in the wallet, with both in-court fines and costly additional surcharges. First offense fines and surcharges can be more than $10,000.00.
Learn more about the Motor Vehicle Commissions surcharges here.
3. Mandatory Alcohol Counseling
Every DWI or DUI comes with a compulsory period of alcohol education training through the Intoxicated Driver’s Resource Center (IDRC). The IDRC can also compel additional counseling than the court sentenced you to, including an additional 16 week program of classes. Costs of the program are in addition to the fines and surcharges levied by the court.
You can find more information on the IDRC program here.
4. Jail Time
Even first time offenders can be sentenced to jail time in New Jersey. Although unlikely, a first offense can result in up to 30 days in jail. Second offenders face mandatory jail of 2 days and can be sentenced up to 90 days in jail. Third offense convictions carry a mandatory 180-day jail term, of which 90 days can be served in an approved in-patient rehabilitation center.
Prior Convictions Matter
The specific consequences of your conviction will depend on several factors, including the nature of your arrest and whether or not you have previously been convicted of DUI/DWI in New Jersey or anywhere. Here’s a breakdown:
If you are a first-time convicted offender the following applies:
- surrender your New Jersey driver’s license to the court, which then forwards your license to the Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC). Your driving privileges will be suspended until you get an ignition interlock device (IID) installed in the car you plan to drive, bring proof of installation to the MVC, pay a restoration fee of $200, and get a new picture ID with “INTERLOCK” printed at the top;
- if there is no BAC or the reading is less than 0.10%, license suspension will be from the day of conviction until proof of installation of an ignition interlock device (IID) is presented to the MVC and a new license is issued; the IID must remain installed for 3 months from the date of installation. If the BAC is 0.10%, but less than 0.15%, license suspension will be from the day of conviction until proof of an IID is presented to the MVC and a new license is issued; the IID must remain installed for 7 to 12 months from the date of installation. If the BAC is 0.15% or higher, license suspension is 4 to 6 months; and an IID must be installed during the suspension and must remain installed for 9 to 15 months after the return of the driver’s license;
- face fines, assessments, and surcharges totaling close to $10,000;
- complete a 12-48 hour Intoxicated Driving Program (IDP) course through your local county Intoxicated Driver Resource Center (IDRC).
Learn more about New Jersey’s interlock program here.
If you are convicted of a second offense, you will:
- lose your New Jersey driving privileges for 1 to 2 years;
- pay fines, assessments, and surcharges of close to $10,000;
- be subject to a minimum 2 days jail and up to 90 days jail;
- attend a 48 hour IDRC weekend, staying at the IDRC facility for 2 days;
- perform 30 days of community service;
- be required to install an ignition interlock device your car for a period of 2-4 years after your license is reinstated.
Third Offense Or Higher
If convicted of a third DWI offense or greater, you will:
- lose your New Jersey driving privileges for 8 years;
- owe fines, assessments, and surcharges of up to $10,000 or more;
- be sentenced to mandatory jail for 180 days, 90 of which may be served in an in-patient rehabilitative facility;
- be required to install an ignition interlock device in your car for a period of 2-4 years after your license is re-instated;
- attend 12 hours in the IDRC, and follow recommended additional treatment.
Possible Consequences You’re Probably Not Thinking About
Beyond the fines, loss of license, and alcohol treatment, a DWI conviction can affect many other areas of your life, especially your relationships and job. Here are some things to consider:
- Embarrassment of having to operate a vehicle with an interlock device;
- Can only operate a vehicle installed with an interlock device;
- CDL drivers will lose their CDL for one year for a first conviction of DWI or Refusal; second offense results in a lifetime loss of CDL;
- Insurance rates may increase or be unavailable for health, life, and / or disability coverage;
- Inability to rent cars;
- Prohibited from driving fleet vehicles for work;
- Credit issues: many credit bureaus include drunk driving convictions on credit reports. This may affect future credit, but it may also prevent convicted drivers from getting jobs where the prospective employer runs a credit check in processing job applications;
- Pilots may lose their flying licenses;
- Professional licenses may be affected;
- Government Security Clearance review, and possible revocation, may be triggered to determine whether or not the DUI is an indication that an individual is a risk to National Security by the intemperate use or abuse of alcohol;
- Even if your boss loves you, an insurance carrier may want to exclude you from any auto insurance policies, or increase the premiums beyond tolerance;
- School teachers may not have their contracts renewed, or may have tenure issues.
What If I’m In the Military?
Those in military service who are charged with or convicted of drunk driving offenses can be summarily discharged, demoted, or required to take extensive alcohol education courses, restricted to military bases, deprived of normal base privileges, or saddled with other forms of punishment, in addition to the penalties from the prosecution of the DWI.
Military personnel are subjected to military rules, even if the arrest occurs off base and there has been no conviction. Common penalties include:
- Loss of rank or grade
- Loss of license for on-base driving for one year
- Base restriction
- In limited cases, discharge or rejection of the right to re-enlist
Contact A DWI & DUI Defense Lawyer in New Jersey
The consequences of a DWI conviction in New Jersey can be overwhelming. There are many ways to beat a DWI, and hiring an experienced attorney for your defense is the essential first step.
Contact the lawyers at Levow DWI Law, P.C. today for a free consultation. Our expert defense team will review your case at no charge, and offer valuable insights on the best options going forward. Click here to learn more about our unique qualifications, or call 1-877-789-5652 to speak with us now.