Many New Jersey drivers may not be fully aware of the penalties that can accompany a DWI conviction. While all DWI-related penalties are serious on their own, the severity of these penalties may increase depending on the offender's blood alcohol content and prior convictions.
New Jersey's zero tolerance law prohibits drivers under the age of 21 from operating a vehicle with even trace amounts of alcohol in their system. Consequences for violating the zero tolerance law include mandatory community service and a minimum 30-day loss of driving privileges. In addition, offenders might be ordered to take part in an alcohol education program.
With respect to blood alcohol content, the legal limit for drivers 21 and over in New Jersey is .08 percent. Drivers who exceed that limit are drunk according to the law. Drunk drivers may be assessed up to $400 in fines, a maximum 30-day jail sentence and a suspended driver's license for three months, provided that their blood alcohol content level was less than .10 percent.
For drunk drivers whose blood alcohol content level is .10 percent or higher, the assessed fine may be as high as $500. Moreover, these offenders may lose their driving privileges for seven months to a year.
DWI offenders who have a previous DWI conviction on their record may receive up to $1,000 in fines and three months of incarceration. Other penalties may include a suspended license for up to two years, an insurance surcharge and a requirement to install an ignition interlock device in the offender's car. These penalties may increase for drunk drivers with multiple prior DWI convictions on their record.
On account of these high stakes, it is critical for drivers accused of DWI to retain the counsel and resources of a criminal defense attorney. Accused drivers are innocent until proven guilty, and the state must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt to obtain a conviction. This task may become much more difficult when the accused driver's attorney mounts an aggressive and multi-pronged defense against the charges.
Source: The State of New Jersey, "Driving while intoxicated", October 14, 2014