License Suspension in New Jersey

Those who are arrested for DWI in New Jersey are quickly reminded that driving is a privilege—not a right. Your license to operate a motor vehicle may be suspended. Authorities across the U.S. and here in New Jersey have good reason to enforce driving laws because the roadways are dangerous. In 2017, there were approximately 37,133 traffic fatalities across the U.S. and 624 in New Jersey. Some of the leading reasons for crashes include traveling at excessive speed, distracted driving, and operating while impaired by alcohol or drugs.

Alcohol is a factor in approximately one out of every four fatal accidents in the state. The New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission explains that drivers with a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of .05% are twice as likely to be the cause of a motor vehicle accident. You may be subject to having your driver's license suspended for either being convicted of DWI or for refusing to submit to a chemical test.

Those arrested for DWI or faced with license revocation for refusing to submit to testing may face potentially difficult consequences. The Lento Law Firm has many years of experience representing clients in these and other criminal traffic offenses.

Driving While Intoxicated (DWI)

The New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission defines DWI as operating a vehicle with a BAC of .08% or higher or while under the influence of a “narcotic, hallucinogenic or habit-producing” drug. A “narcotic” drug has been defined as one that produces a “narcotic effect” that alters “normal physical coordination and mental faculties” and poses a danger to public safety. For those not yet of legal age for alcohol consumption, the limit is .01%.

Understanding Implied Consent

When you obtain a driver's license you are agreeing to consent to a breath or blood test when suspected of being intoxicated. New Jersey laws (39:4-50.4a) state that those who refuse such tests may have their driving privileges suspended.

Refusal to Submit

Suspension Period


1st Offense

Seven Months to One Year

$300 - $500

2nd Offense

Two Years

$500 - $1000

3rd Offense

Ten Years


In addition to the suspension of driving privileges and fines, those refusing to submit may be referred to the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center. If the driver is on or within 1,000 feet of an elementary or secondary school, both the suspension periods and fines are doubled. It is important to remember that a refusal to submit to testing is an infraction that is independent of any DWI charges.

License Suspension Periods for DWI

The state imposes penalties associated with DWI on two levels based on the BAC of the driver at the time. The first level is those with a BAC of between .08% and .10%. The penalties are increased at .10% BAC levels.

  • First offense DWI with BAC of .08 to .10% results in a three-month license suspension
  • First offense DWI with BAC of .10% or higher results in a license suspension of between seven months and one-year
  • First offense DWI for those under the legal drinking age will result in a license suspension of between 30 and 90 days
  • Second offense DWI results in a two-year license suspension
  • Third offense DWI results in a ten-year license suspension

Driving Under a Suspension

Once you have had your driver's license suspended it is critical to adhere to the terms of the suspension. Those found to be driving during a suspension period can expect their penalties to compound. A first offense of driving under suspension will result in an additional suspension of up to six months and a $500 fine. A second offense will also result in an additional six-month suspension, a $750 fine, and up to five days in jail.

A driver having their license suspended for a DWI or refusal to submit that is found operating under suspension will have an additional one to two years added to their suspension. In addition, these offenses may result in between 10 and 90 days in jail. These penalties are also enhanced if they occur in proximity to a school zone.

Boating DWI Impact on Driver's License

An individual that is convicted of DWI in the state's waterways while operating a boat will have their driver's license suspended. Those who are operating a “vessel” are subject to DWI for alcohol and drug use in the same manner as in a passenger vehicle. To be classified as a vessel the boat must have a motor or measure 12-feet or more in length. Those convicted of a “BWI” will have their driver's license suspended for the same periods as if operating a passenger vehicle and for the same periods of time for subsequent offenses.

Can I Obtain a Driver's License in a Different State During a Suspension?

In today's highly connected digital environment, U.S. states now have the ability to maintain and share data among one another. The National Driver Register (NDR) was established by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The NDR maintains information on those who have had their driving privileges suspended or revoked.

This data also may be used in New Jersey to determine if an individual arrested for driving under the influence or driving under suspension has had a prior offense(s). A previous violation in a different state that is of a “substantially similar nature” is treated as a prior offense according to New Jersey law.

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

Those operating a commercial motor vehicle may be convicted of a DWI if their BAC is .04% or more. These are drivers that have a commercial driver's license (CDL). If one of these individuals is convicted of a DWI, their basic license will be suspended for a period of three months to one-year and their CDL will be suspended for one-year. For a second DWI conviction, the driver's CDL is revoked indefinitely.

How Can Experienced Legal Representation Help?

Retaining experienced legal counsel may assist you in various ways including:

  • Investigating if reasonable grounds existed for the traffic stop
  • Determining if the officer was procedurally compliant and that you were properly informed of your rights
  • If you were stopped at a sobriety checkpoint, it is possible that evidence may be suppressed if the agency did not adhere to Supreme Court guidelines
  • Engage in negotiations that could result in reduced charges and minimized penalties
  • Establishing a comprehensive defense strategy

New Jersey DWI Defense Attorney

Have you been arrested for DWI or refused to submit to testing for alcohol or drugs? At this point, you may be overwhelmed and unsure of what to expect. Attorney Joseph D. Lento aggressively defends clients in these criminal matters in New Jersey. Contact the office today for a consultation 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.

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