Did you know that more than 1 million U.S. drivers are charged with operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol annually? There are also more than 10,000 traffic fatalities each year attributed to driver impairment. In New Jersey, agencies of law enforcement are continuing to more aggressively enforce the state's DWI laws.
Defining Driving While Intoxicated (DWI)
Drivers found to be operating a motor vehicle when under the influence of alcohol or drugs may be charged with DWI. The legal limit for alcohol is a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08%. This also applied to drivers that are intoxicated by narcotics, hallucinogens or other habit-forming drugs. There is a reduced .01% BAC limit for those under the age of 21 and .04% for those operating a commercial motor vehicle.
First-Time Offender Penalties
All first-time offenders in New Jersey must complete an IDRC or similar alcohol education and safety class or program. They also must have an IID installed on their vehicle at their expense.
- Penalties for a BAC between .08 and .10% face a maximum fine of $400 and are subject to IID requirements
- Penalties for a BAC between .10 and .15% face a maximum fine of $500 and IID installation for up to one year
- Penalties, when a BAC exceeds .15%, is a maximum fine of $500 and IID installation may be required for up to 21 months
Multiple DWI Offenders
A prior DWI offense is considered as a conviction that occurred within the prior 10-years. The penalties for repeat offenders increase sharply in severity. Those with a second-offense face heightened fines, a license suspension of up to 24 months, and may be required to have an IID installed for up to 72 months. This is in addition to the completion of an IDRC or similar program and 30 days of community service.
Driver Consent to Chemical Testing
Drivers are required to consent to chemical tests at the request of a member of law enforcement when there are reasonable grounds to suspect they are intoxicated. These tests may involve taking a sample of the motorist's breath, blood or urine. Drivers who refuse to comply are subject to penalties including suspension of their driving privileges.
Ignition Interlock Devices (IIDs)
New Jersey is now one of the many U.S. states that require all DWI offenders to install and maintain an IID. Data shows that IIDs are more effective in the prevention of drunk driving compared to a suspension of driving privileges. This device requires the driver to submit a breath sample to detect alcohol before their vehicle will start.
Potential Collateral Consequences of a DWI Conviction
There are various difficulties that a DWI conviction may create. Those who drive professionally, such as a commercial truck driver, may find themselves unemployed. Barriers may exist for those seeking employment where they would operate a company car and will be subject to a driving record check. Those in occupations that require professional licensing may encounter problems with their background check.
Experienced DWI Defense Attorney in Mercer County
Charges of operating a vehicle while intoxicated are aggressively prosecuted in New Jersey. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has a firm understanding of how to defend clients in these matters by employing comprehensive strategies. For a case evaluation, contact the office today at (888) 535-3686.