Did you know that more than 1 million U.S. drivers are arrested for operating under the influence each year? All U.S. states prohibit drivers from operating a motor vehicle with blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08%. New Jersey lawmakers continue adopting provisions that enable prosecutors to impose stricter penalties on DWI offenders.
Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) Defined (39:4-50)
DWI is operating a motor vehicle while “under the influence of intoxicating liquor, narcotic, hallucinogenic or habit producing drug.” The threshold for alcohol is a concentration of 0.08%.
The terms “narcotic, hallucinogenic or habit-producing drug” applies to substances that are inhaled that contain “toxic vapors or fumes” that may cause intoxication. It includes chemicals that may cause “inebriation, excitement, stupefaction or dulling of the brain or nervous system.” Other examples include butyl alcohol, pentachlorophenol, nitrous oxide, and more.
Recent Legislative Changes in New Jersey (39:4-50.16a)
New DWI laws took effect on December 1, 2019. Legislators found that a “majority” of DWI offenders continued to drive despite having a suspended license. Ignition interlock devices (IIDs) are now used that require a driver to submit a breath sample to detect alcohol before a vehicle will start.
Offenders are responsible for IID costs. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and Mothers against Drunk Driving (MADD) all support these changes.
First Time DWI Offender Penalties
- Offenders whose BAC is .08 to .10% will have their driver's license suspended for 30 days and a maximum of $400 fine imposed. The driver must have an IID installed in their vehicle for up to six months. All first-time offenders must attend an Intoxicated Drivers Resource Center program for 12 to 48 hours.
- Offenders whose BAC ranges from .10 to .15% or is operating under the influence of drugs will have their driver's license suspended for 45 days and be fined up to $500. The driver must have an IID installed on their vehicle for up to one year.
- Offenders with a BAC exceeding .15% with have a 90-day driver's license suspension and a fine of up to $500. The driver must have an IID installed for up to 18 months.
Understanding Driver Consent to Chemical Testing (39:4-50.2)
Those operating a vehicle are “deemed to have given consent” to submit to chemical testing. This applies when a police officer has reasonable suspicion that the driver may be intoxicated. Chemical testing such as breath, blood or urine may not be done by using force.
Refusal to Submit to Testing (39:4-50.4a)
Any driver that refuses to submit to chemical testing will have their driver's license suspended for 90 days. The driver must also have an IID installed on their vehicle for up to one year. Those with multiple offenses may face a license suspension of up to three years.
Multiple DWI Offenses
Drivers may be charged with a second-offense DWI if the prior offense was within the past 10 years. Fines of between $500 and $1,000 are imposed and 30 days of community service is ordered. Offenders are incarcerated for at least 48 hours and their driver's license is suspended for two years. All multiple DWI offenders must install an IID device on their vehicles. These penalties increase with any subsequent offense.
Legal Representation for Those Charged with a DWI
A DWI conviction can result in jail time, significant fines, large auto insurance increases, and more. Joseph D. Lento is a defense lawyer that has many years of experience representing clients in these matters. Contact the office today at (888) 535-3686.