Effects of a DWI Conviction in New Jersey

The DWI laws in New Jersey continue to evolve and the trend has been that offenders are increasingly subject to more significant penalties. Meanwhile, experienced defense attorneys had continued to develop more effective strategies for defending these cases. In 2008, 85% of those charged with DUI offenses were convicted. Now approximately a decade later, the percentage of those found guilty has decreased to around 71%. This nearly 17% shift is partially attributed to negotiated agreements that involve pleading to alternate charges and other factors.

This realm of practice has also changed as most jurisdictions now enforce “drugged driving” in addition to those under the influence of alcohol. Offenders are charged according to the same DWI statute regardless of whether the offense involves alcohol or drugs. The technology for accurately detecting if a driver is currently impaired by drugs has yet to be refined. New Jersey has instead certified over 400 members of law enforcement as Drug Recognition Experts (DREs) that are trained in detection.

Prior Offenses

In New Jersey, those charged with a DWI may be deemed a repeat offender if they have any convictions in the prior ten-year period. This “look back” period varies from state-to-state. For example, among neighboring states, New York considers convictions within the prior 15 years and Delaware considers any prior convictions in a lifetime. These lengthier periods can create potentially significant problems for those who in prior years would otherwise be facing the lesser penalties associated with a first offense.

Understanding Blood Alcohol Content (BAC)

New Jersey law considers those who are operating a vehicle with a BAC of .08% to be impaired and subject to DWI. For those who are under the legal age for alcohol consumption, this limit is merely .01%. For those who operate commercial motor vehicles the established limit is .04%. Under N.J.S.A. 39:4-50, drivers who refuse to submit to such testing are subject to a license suspension and are charged similarly to those who are determined to be impaired based on BAC.

Driving Under the Influence of Drugs

New Jersey's Motor Vehicle Commission also defines DUI as operating a vehicle while under the influence of a “narcotic, hallucinogenic or habit-producing” drug. A “narcotic drug” is said to be that which generates a “narcotic effect” and impedes the ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. The presence of these drugs may be revealed through a blood test.

Do I Need an Attorney When Charged With DWI?

The penalties that may result from a DUI conviction have potentially devastating consequences. Those charged with operating under the influence should promptly consult with a seasoned criminal defense lawyer. The Lento Law Firm has the experience that can only be obtained by representing clients in many New Jersey cases and offers an aggressive legal defense.

The Concept of Implied Consent

Those who have driving privileges in New Jersey have provided “implied consent” to submit to testing at the request of law enforcement. Failing to comply with such testing is an offense of its own that has consequences. Penalties may include a suspension of driving privileges and enhanced penalties such as requiring the driver to install an ignition interlock device.

Test Refusal

Suspension Imposed


1st Offense

Seven Months to One Year

$300 - $500

2nd Offense

Two Years

$500 - $1000

3rd Offense

Ten Years


Effects of a DWI Conviction

License Suspension

The state imposes penalties for DWI on two levels based on the driver's BAC level. The standard level for BAC is between .08% and .10%. The penalties are heightened when the BAC exceeds .10%. 

• DWI: First offense and BAC of .08 to .10% results in a three-month license suspension
• DWI: First offense and BAC of .10% or higher results in a license suspension of between seven months and one-year
• DWI: First offense for drivers yet to reach the legal age for alcohol consumption will face a license suspension period of 30 to 90 days
• DWI: Second offense leads to a two-year license suspension
• DWI: Third offense leads to a ten-year license suspension

Driving Under a Suspension

Another negative effect of a DWI is the possibility of losing your driving privileges. If you are caught driving under suspension, you will face further penalties. First-time offenders will have an additional suspension imposed of up to six months and a $500 fine. Second-time offenses will lead to an additional six-month suspension, a $750 fine, and up to five days in jail. Those whose license is currently suspended for a DWI or refusal to submit to testing may face a suspension of up to two years. Offenses that occur in school zones carry enhanced penalties as well.

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

Those with a CDL may be convicted of a DWI if their BAC is .04%. First-time offenders will have their passenger vehicle license suspended for between three months and one-year and a one-year CDL suspension. Subsequent DWI offenses will result in revocation of the CDL.


Jail time may be imposed on DWI offenders as follows:

  • First offense: Up to 30 days
  • Second offense: From 48 hours to 90 days
  • Third offense: Up to 180 days
Ignition Interlock

You may be ordered to have an ignition interlock device installed on your vehicle. This device requires you to submit a breath sample prior to operating the vehicle. Offenders with a BAC of .15% must have an interlock device installed amid their suspension and up to one year after. Repeat DUI offenders may require the device to be installed for up to three years. 

Financial Effects

There are significant financial consequences associated with a DWI conviction such as these:

• Vehicle towing and impound fee
• Attorney Fees
• Fines of $250 to $1,000
• Ignition interlock device fees (when applicable)
• Fee for Intoxicated Driver Resource Center
• Surcharge for three-years on auto insurance: $1,000 to $1,500
• Drunk Driving Enforcement Fund fee ($100)
• Intoxicated Driving Program fee
• Safe and Secure Community Program fee
• Driver's License Reinstatement fee

Impact on Employment and Professional Licenses

DWI offenders may have employment-related consequences. Those who operate a vehicle for a living, such as a truck or a taxi driver may lose their job. Many professional occupations require licenses such as those who are nurses or attorneys and are often subject to background screens that may create adverse consequences.

New Jersey DWI Defense Attorney

Those charged with DWI or of failing to comply with testing for alcohol or drugs certainly will face penalties. Joseph D. Lento is an attorney who represents clients in these actions in New Jersey. For a consultation, please call the office 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.