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New Jersey DUI laws are intricate, but one thing’s for certain–you won’t get a DUI if you don’t drink and drive. If you had one too many and got behind the wheel, maybe you’re wondering what comes next. We’ll take a look at the changes to drunk driving laws in NJ, general penalties, and common defenses in DUI cases.

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Definition Of DUI In New Jersey

New Jersey sets the legal blood alcohol content (BAC) limit for drivers at .08 percent. Limits are lower for commercial drivers (.04 percent) and drivers under age 21 (.01 percent). Drivers under 21 will be charged as adults if their BAC is over .08 percent. You can be charged with a DUI if your BAC is under the legal limit if there is evidence you are impaired to the extent you can’t drive safely.

Changes To NJ DUI Laws

The legislature enacted new NJ DUI laws in 2019. Anyone convicted of a DUI can be ordered to install a ‘breath alcohol ignition interlock device’ (BAIID) in their vehicle, which requires the driver to blow into a device that allows the car to start if their BAC is under .05 percent. The device can be installed immediately after conviction.

General Penalties

DUI penalties typically include jail time, community service, alcohol or drug education, and monetary costs. Administrative (i.e., license suspension) penalties result in fines and surcharges, and judicial (i.e., court-imposed) penalties come with fines as well.

New Jersey requires anyone convicted of a DUI to participate in the state’s Intoxicated Driving Program, which administers the penalties. Defendants must visit an Intoxicated Driving Resource Center (IDRC) and pay the program fee. Extra fees may apply for curriculum and enrollment.

NJ DUI Laws: 1st Offense

With a BAC of .099 or lower, the following penalties are imposed at the discretion of the court:

  • 3-month license suspension or IID installation
  • $250-$400 fine
  • $100 drunk driving fund payment
  • $100 Alcohol Education and Rehabilitation Fund (AERF) payment
  • $75 to Safe Neighborhood Services Fund (SNSF)
  • $1,000 per year insurance surcharge for 3 years
  • Up to 30 days imprisonment
  • 12-48 hoursIDRC visit and $230 fee

With a BAC of .10 or higher, the following apply in addition to the penalties listed above:

  • Fine increases to $300-$500
  • 7 months-1 year license suspension or IID installation
  • IID installation during license suspension and 6-12 months after suspension is lifted (for BAC higher than .15)

NJ DUI Laws: 2nd Offense (Within 10 Years)

  • 2-year license suspension
  • $500-$1,000 fine
  • $275 total in drunk driving fund, AERF, and SNSF payments
  • $1,000 per year insurance surcharge for 3 years
  • 48 hours-90 days imprisonment
  • 30 days community service
  • 12-48 hours IDRC and $280 fee
  • IID during license suspension and 1-3 years after

NJ DUI Laws: 3rd Offense (Within 10 Years Of 2nd Offense)

A third DUI offense comes with mandatory jail time. Other penalties include:

  • 10-year license suspension
  • $1,000 fine
  • $275 total in drunk driving fund, AERF, and SNSF payments
  • $1,500 per year insurance surcharge for 3 years
  • 180 days imprisonment
  • Up to 90 days community service
  • 12-48 hours IDRC and $280 fine
  • IID during license suspension and 1-3 years after

NJ DUI Laws: Aggravating Factors

Aggravating factors can increase criminal penalties. General aggravating factors that are not specific to drunk driving include the high likelihood of re-offending or level of harm to victims. Factors specific to drunk driving include driving with a minor in the car or having a BAC over .15 percent.

NJ DUI Laws: Related Offenses

You can be charged with additional criminal offenses if you engaged in the following behavior while driving under the influence:

  • Driving or riding with an open container
  • Driving with a DUI-suspended license
  • Driving while possessing drugs
  • Reckless or careless driving
  • Speeding
  • Leaving the scene of an accident (more severe for serious bodily injury or fatality)
  • Death by “vehicular homicide”
  • Assault by automobile

New Jersey’s ‘implied consent law’ says by obtaining a driver’s license in the state, you give your consent to have your BAC tested when stopped for drunk driving. Refusing a BAC breath test results in a one-year license suspension.

Common Defenses To DUI Charges

You may be curious about your chances of beating a DUI in NJ. A good lawyer will know what defenses may be available to reduce your penalties or help you avoid being convicted. Common defenses to DUI charges include the following:

  • No justification for traffic stop
  • Invalid, inaccurate, or non-standardized field sobriety test
  • Failure to provide implied consent warning (for BAC test) or Miranda warning (for arrest)
  • Inaccurate BAC results or collection procedure
  • Failure to observe defendant for 20 minutes before BAC test
  • Impairment caused by medical conditions
  • Police report incorrect or in conflict with video evidence

Your attorney will use as many applicable defenses as possible. It’s best to hire an attorney as soon as possible after your arrest. If you can’t afford an attorney, you have a right to be represented by a public defender at no cost.

Have You Been Charged Under NJ's DUI Laws?

Criminal charges don’t have to ruin your life. If you’re facing drunk driving charges, let an experienced DUI attorney take the wheel and provide guidance in your case.

Legal Disclaimer: This article contains general legal information, but does not constitute professional legal advice for your particular situation and should not be interpreted as creating an attorney-client relationship. If you have legal questions, you should seek the advice of an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

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