First offense DWI - N.J.S.A. 39:4-50(a)

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New Jersey DWI sentencing can be quite severe. Of course, the overall idea for the severity of penalties is the hope that it will deter future drunk driving. To avoid the harshest penalties on your first DWI conviction in New Jersey our advice is to seek out an experienced attorney that can help you through the process.

The penalties for DWI in New Jersey are structured in accordance with the number of prior convictions one has had and the driver's blood alcohol content (BAC). Sometimes other factors will be considered by the judge in determining your sentence upon a DWI conviction. The penalties for a first-time DWI conviction in New Jersey are as follows:

New Jersey DWI Statutes

Driving while Intoxicated (“DWI”) is defined in N.J.S.A. 39:4-50:

To prove that the defendant is guilty of driving while intoxicated, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant operated a motor vehicle while intoxicated.

The statute creates two distinct ways to be found guilty of Driving While Intoxicated:

  • The first is commonly referred as an "observation case" wherien a police officer testifies that in his opinion based upon the factors of the stop that the driver was under the influence of intoxicating liquor and that intoxication affected their ability to properly operate a motor vehicle; and
  • The second is referred to as a "Per Se case" wherein the conviction is based upon the entry into evidence of the Alcohol Influence Report showing a blood alcohol concentration of .08% or more

In other words, a person can be convicted of driving while under the influence of intoxicating liquor even when their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is below 0.08% percent or if the results of the Breathalyzer are not accepted into evidence but the officer testifies to the contrary and the facts of the case support that conclusion.   Arguably, consuming even a small amount of alcohol dulls the senses, decreases reaction time, and hampers judgement, vision and alertness. If a person consumes alcohol and their driving is negatively impacted, they can be convicted of drunk driving.

If a defendant is charged with DWI for the first time, they will be facing monetary fines, loss of license, and in the most severe cases jail time.

 

Consequences for a first offense Driving While Intoxicated (1st Offense)

Under the law in New Jersey, if an offender's BAC is 0.08 percent or higher, but less than 0.10 percent, or if an offender permits another person with a BAC over 0.08 percent, but less than 0.10 percent to operate a motor vehicle, the penalties are:

  • A fine of $250-$400
  • Imprisonment for up to 30 days
  • license suspension beginning at court and remaining until such time that an ignition interlock device is installed 
  • the installation of an ignition interlock device for a period of 3 months
  • A minimum of six hours a day for two consecutive days in an Intoxicated Driver Resource Center
  • An automobile insurance surcharge of $1,000 a year for 3 years

If the offender's BAC is 0.10 percent to a 0.15 the penalties are:

  • A fine of $300-$500
  • Imprisonment for up to 30 days
  • license suspension beginning at court and remaining until such time that an ignition interlock device is installed
  • the installation of an ignition interlock device for a period ranging from seven (7) to twelve (12) months
  • A minimum of six hours a day for two consecutive days in an Intoxicated Driver Resource Center
  • An automobile insurance surcharge of $1,000 a year for 3 years

If the offender's BAC is above 0.15 percent,  the penalties are:

  • A fine of $300-$500
  • Imprisonment for up to 30 days
  • license suspension for a period of time ranging from four (4) to six (6) months 
  • the installation of an ignition interlock device for a period ranging from nine (9) to fifteen (15) months
  • A minimum of six hours a day for two consecutive days in an Intoxicated Driver Resource Center
  • An automobile insurance surcharge of $1,000 a year for 3 years

If the offender operates a motor vehicle while under the influence of a narcotic, hallucinogenic or habit-producing drug, or permits another person to operate their motor vehicle while under the influence of a narcotic, hallucinogenic or habit-producing drug,  the penalties are:

  • A fine of $300-$500
  • Imprisonment for up to 30 days
  • license suspension for a period of seven(7) to twelve (12) months
  • there is no requirement for an ignition interlock device where the charge is based upon the person being under the influence of a narcotic, hallucinogenic or habit-producing drugs
  • A minimum of six hours a day for two consecutive days in an Intoxicated Driver Resource Center
  • An automobile insurance surcharge of $1,000 a year for 3 years

In addition to the penalties listed above, additional penalties also include:

  • A $100 surcharge to be deposited in the Drunk Driving Enforcement Fund
  • A Motor Vehicle Commission restoration fee of $100 and an Intoxicated Driving Program fee of $100
  • A Violent Crimes Compensation Fund fee of $50
  • A Safe and Secure Community Program fee of $75

 

Act Now Before It's Too Late!

Mistakes happen all of the time. If a mistake was made by the police or the New Jersey prosecution it should not hurt you and your family. Our experienced NJ DWI Defense Lawyers at Villani & DeLuca regularly protect the legal rights of people who have been charged with DWI / DUI or breath test refusal. This traffic offense carries the possibility of jail time and costly fines in New Jersey. The stakes are too high and the possible effects can last for years. A strong legal defense can often convince the courts to have your drunk driving charges dismissed or reduced so don't risk your future by trying to defend yourself against a DUI! Contact Villani & Deluca today for a FREE case evaluation on all your pending drunk driving charges.

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