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. In this guide, 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:
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.
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 start at almost $7,000.00.
Learn more about the Motor Vehicle Commissions surcharges here.
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.
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 jail. Second offenders face mandatory jail of 2 days and can be sentenced up to 90 days in jail.
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’ve received any similar prior convictions in New Jersey or anywhere. Here’s a breakdown:
If you are a first-time convicted offender with no extenuating factors (like high alcohol level, a minor in the vehicle, violation in a school zone, or refusal of alcohol testing), you will:
- lose your driving privileges for a minimum of 3 months for under 0.10% and 7 to 12 months 0.10% and above,
- face fines, assessments and surcharges totaling close to $7,000,
- complete a 12-hour Intoxicated Driving Program (IDP) course through your local county Intoxicated Driver Resource Center (IDRC).
If your alcohol level is 0.15% or greater, you must install an ignition interlock device in the vehicle you drive for 6-12 months after your driving privileges are restored. 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 two years,
- pay fines assessments and surcharges of at least $7,000,
- attend a 48-hour IDRC session while being detained for 2 days,
- and perform 30 days of community service.
You must also install an ignition interlock device in the car that you operate for a period of 1-3 years after your driving privileges are restored.
Third Offense Or Higher
If convicted of a third DWI offense or greater, you will:
- lose your New Jersey driving privileges for 10 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, and
- be required to install an ignition interlock device in your car for a period of 1-3 years after your license is re-instated.
You will also follow up the other parts of your sentence through a 12-48 hour IDRC detainment, at which time you may be referred for additional services and 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 more effects to consider:
- Insurance rates may increase or be unavailable for health, life and / or disability coverage
- Inability to rent cars
- 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.
- Government Security Clearance review, and possible revocation, may be triggered to determine whether or not the DUI is 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 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 right to re-enlist
Contact A DWI & DUI Defense Lawyer in New Jersey
As you have seen, the consequences of a DWI conviction in New Jersey are overwhelming. But, if you think a charge is a lost cause, you’re wrong. 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 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 1-877-735-2288 and speak with us now.