How important is blood alcohol concentration in a driving under the influence charge? According to the website maintained by the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission, BAC levels implicate certain mandatory fines and penalties.
As we mentioned in last week’s post, a first DUI offense does not trigger a mandatory minimum jail sentence. However, certain other mandatory penalties are triggered by a DUI conviction, depending on the driver’s BAC level.
Specifically, a conviction for a DUI charge involving a BAC of 0.10 percent or greater involves the mandatory loss of one’s driver’s license between seven months and one year. In addition, that conviction also implicates a mandatory fine between $300 and $500, plus certain other fees. Notably, a discretionary prison term of up to 30 days is still a possible punishment, even if not mandatory for a first DUI offense. For offenders whose BAC was 0.15 percent or greater, an ignition interlock device may also be included as part of the sentence.
A DUI conviction for a BAC level over 0.08 percent but less than 0.10 percent also results in the mandatory loss of a driver’s license for three months. The mandatory fine for that conviction is between $250 and $400, as well as a potential prison term up to 30 days.
Despite those mandatory penalties, there are also strategies involved in a DUI defense. For example, a defendant can request a hearing regarding whether a mandatory license suspension should apply. In addition, there is a separate municipal court hearing in New Jersey to determine the applicability of fines and/or jail time. An experienced DUI defense attorney can strive to reduce the license suspension period as well as the possibility of fines and jail time, possibly through a plea bargain.
Source: New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission, “Driving Under the Influence,” updated May 18, 2015, State of New Jersey