The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that roughly 1.5 million U.S. drivers are arrested each year for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This translates to one of every 121 licensed drivers. New Jersey lawmakers have been revising their DWI laws recently.
Driving While Intoxicated (DWI)
Drivers are prohibited from operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated by alcohol or drugs that are narcotic, hallucinogenic or habit-forming. The legal limit for alcohol consumption is a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08%.
Drivers who are under 21 years old are subject to a legal BAC limit of .01%. Underage offenders will have their driver's license suspended for a minimum of 30 days and be ordered to complete a minimum of 15 days of community service. They are also ordered to complete an alcohol safety program and pay any related fees.
Chemical Testing for Alcohol or Drugs
Those who are operating a vehicle are required to submit to chemical testing when a police officer has “reasonable grounds” to suspect they are impaired. Breath, blood or urine testing may be performed. Drivers that refuse to submit to testing are likely to have their driver's license suspended.
The court will apply a “preponderance of the evidence” standard to determine whether the probable grounds existed for the police officer to request chemical testing. If reasonable grounds existed and the vehicle operator knowingly refused to submit to testing they are subject to a license suspension, fines, and other penalties.
Ignition Interlock Devices (IID)
Lawmakers in New Jersey have found that suspending the driver's license of DWI offenders has negative outcomes. They have recently implemented an alternative that involves the mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device (IID) to the offender's vehicle. An IID requires the offender to submit a breath sample to detect the presence of alcohol before the vehicle will start.
Updated DWI Penalties
- First-time offenders with a BAC between .08 and .10%: A license suspension of 30 days and an IID installed for up to six months. They are also subject to up to $400 in fines and must complete an Intoxicated Driver Resource program.
- First-time offenders with a BAC of .10 to .15%: A license suspension of 45 days and an IID installed for up to one year. They are also subject to up to $500 in fines and must complete an Intoxicated Driver Resource program.
- First-time offenders with a BAC of .15%: A license suspension of 90 days and an IID installed for up to 18 months. They are also subject to up to $500 in fines and must complete an Intoxicated Driver Resource program.
Prior DWI Convictions
A second-offense DWI is based on whether there were any convictions in the past ten years. The penalties are significantly enhanced with subsequent DWI convictions.
Commercial Vehicle Driver DWI
Those who are operating a commercial motor vehicle, such as truck drivers, face significant consequences for DWI. Those with a commercial driver's license that are operating in this capacity are subject to a lower BAC limit of .04%. These individuals are likely to have their employment terminated under these circumstances.
New Jersey DWI Defense Attorney
Individuals that have been arrested for DWI should promptly seek assistance for an attorney that regularly works in this realm of legal practice. The Lento Law Firm will aggressively protect your rights and pursue a positive outcome. Call (888) 535-3686 for a case evaluation.