DWI in New Jersey

Driving while intoxicated (DWI) of drugs and/or alcohol is a serious criminal offense in all states. But New Jersey's approach to the prosecution of this crime is especially strict, as harsh legal penalties are imposed for even a first offense. The consequences of driving impaired can range from substantial financial loss to the loss of your freedom. With so much at stake, you can't afford to not obtain legal representation.

If you've been arrested and charged with a DWI, knowing the gravity of your charges and potential penalties is important. In this article, we'll address various New Jersey DWI laws and the significance of retaining legal counsel to advocate for you in the event that you're charged.

DWI Laws in New Jersey

Firstly, the terms “driving while impaired” (DWI) and “driving under the influence” (DUI) are used interchangeably in New Jersey. They both essentially mean that you've been caught driving with an unlawful quantity of drugs or alcohol, or a combination of the two, in your system.

In order to be convicted of said crimes, it must be proven that a motorist had a recorded blood alcohol content (BAC) that was over the legal limit while behind the wheel. In New Jersey, the legal limit shifts depending on the age and/or status of the driver. For example, the legal limits are:

  • .02% or higher for motorists under 21
  • .04% for commercial motorists
  • .08% for anyone else

The state has a very low tolerance for underage drinking and drugged driving. It doesn't take much alcohol to reach the .02% limit. It's also important to note that the leniency usually extended to younger people who commit crimes won't be available for underage drivers prosecuted of this crime.

Generally, people with commercial driver's licenses (CDLs) are held to much higher standards than non-commercial drivers on the roadways, making an impaired driving charge detrimental to their career. The New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission will not hesitate to suspend or even revoke a CDL as a result of a DUI conviction.

Other DWI-Related Laws

There are laws that are commonly charged alongside DWIs that residents should be aware of. New Jersey's open container law and implied consent law are two lesser known crimes, yet they're highly enforced. Here's what you should know.

Open Container Law

New Jersey law forbids any individual from possessing an alcoholic beverage in a vehicle in any of the following circumstances:

  • The beverage's original seal is broken
  • The beverage is in a container like a glass or a cup

This rule applies to everyone inside of the car that's located on a public highway or parking lot, regardless of whether it's technically their drink or not.

The open container law also prohibits any person within a vehicle from consuming an alcoholic beverage while a vehicle is being operated. If there is an open container in the passenger compartment, the contents of a container have been partially removed, or a person's physical appearance or demeanor is consistent with intoxication, it is presumed that passengers have consumed alcohol.

Specific vehicles - such as limousines, buses, motor homes, and campers - are exempt from this restriction, as passengers are permitted to possess and consume alcohol.

If you are cited for this crime, you'll have to pay a fine of $200. Subsequent citations will result in a fine of $250 and 10 days of community service.

Implied Consent Law

New Jersey law requires testing if you are arrested by an officer who has probable cause to believe you have been driving while intoxicated. Therefore, a motorist has violated the state's implied consent law when he or she refuses to submit a blood, breath, or urine test upon the request of a police officer. The consequences for refusing consist of a seven-month license suspension and a fine of up to $500. A second offense is punishable by a two-year suspension and a fine of up to $1,000. For your third refusal, a license suspension will last 10 years and the fine will rack up to $1,000.

DWI Penalties

Although DWIs are defined as traffic offenses rather than criminal offenses in New Jersey, convictions still carry heavy legal consequences. And as prior offenses accrue, the repercussions get more severe. People who have been charged with a DWI for being generally impaired may face the following penalties:

First Offense

  • Jail time: up to 30 days
  • Fines: $250 to $500
  • License suspension: up to one year
  • The possible installation of an ignition interlock device

Second Offense

  • Jail time: up to 90 days
  • Fines: $500 to $1,000
  • License suspension: up to two years
  • The possible installation of an ignition interlock device

Third Offense

  • Jail time: up to 180 days
  • Fines: $1,000
  • License suspension: 10 years
  • The possible installation of an ignition interlock device

New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorney

DWI cases require the assistance of an experienced legal professional. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has the experience and credentials to defend and counsel people regarding DWI charges and convictions. He will explain your pending charges, build a solid defense and work towards getting your charges reduced or dropped. For more information about Mr. Lento's representation, contact the Lento Law Firm either online or by phone at 888-535-3686.

​​​Contact The Lento Law Firm Today

When it comes to criminal defense cases, you need the right person in your corner. To learn more about how Mr. Lento can help you, call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686. or contact him online.

This website was created only for general information purposes. It is not intended to be construed as legal advice for any situation. Only a direct consultation with a licensed Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York attorney can provide you with formal legal counsel based on the unique details surrounding your situation. The pages on this website may contain links and contact information for third party organizations - the Lento Law Firm does not necessarily endorse these organizations nor the materials contained on their website. In Pennsylvania, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout Pennsylvania's 67 counties, including, but not limited to Philadelphia, Allegheny, Berks, Bucks, Carbon, Chester, Dauphin, Delaware, Lancaster, Lehigh, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Schuylkill, and York County. In New Jersey, attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New Jersey's 21 counties: Atlantic, Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Essex, Gloucester, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Salem, Somerset, Sussex, Union, and Warren County, In New York, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New York's 62 counties. Outside of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, unless attorney Joseph D. Lento is admitted pro hac vice if needed, his assistance may not constitute legal advice or the practice of law. The decision to hire an attorney in Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania counties, New Jersey, New York, or nationwide should not be made solely on the strength of an advertisement. We invite you to contact the Lento Law Firm directly to inquire about our specific qualifications and experience. Communicating with the Lento Law Firm by email, phone, or fax does not create an attorney-client relationship. The Lento Law Firm will serve as your official legal counsel upon a formal agreement from both parties. Any information sent to the Lento Law Firm before an attorney-client relationship is made is done on a non-confidential basis.