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Is drunk driving a criminal offense in New Jersey?

Drunk driving laws in New Jersey differ from the vast majority of the country. A DUI is considered both a traffic violation and a criminal offense in most states, and can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony depending on numerous contributing factors.

Under New Jersey law, however, a DUI is defined as a traffic violation alone and is not considered a criminal act. Even so, the penalties for a conviction can be extremely serious. While first-time offenders usually face a three-month license suspension, this can be extended for up to a year if they have a blood alcohol content of over .10 at the time of the offense. A first offense also carries a minimum $250 fine and can potentially be punished by up to 30 days of jail time.

While a New Jersey DUI conviction will not appear on an individual's criminal record, it will stay on that person's driving record for up to 10 years. If you are convicted of a future DUI, any previous convictions during this period will be taken into account during sentencing, leading to more severe penalties.

A second DUI carries a fine of $500-$1000, a minimum 48 hours and a maximum 90 days in jail and a 2 year license suspension. These penalties are the same whether you were heavily intoxicated or just over the limit. A third conviction will result in a fine of $1000 and 180 days of jail time, as well as a 10 year suspension of driving privileges.

A DUI conviction may not be considered a criminal offense in New Jersey, but the consequences are nonetheless extremely serious. If you have been arrested for driving while intoxicated, the counsel of an experienced drunk driving attorney can help you to avoid or mitigate the penalties you are facing.

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