It’s that time of the year: holiday shopping and festive parties pick up steam in anticipation of celebrations of Christmas and New Year’s. While we might look forward to gatherings of friends, family and co-workers, it is important to be aware that police departments in Union and Monmouth counties – and all across New Jersey – step up drunk driving enforcement efforts at this time of year.

A recent news article pointed out that many law enforcement agencies are kicking off their DWI (driving while intoxicated) efforts this week. Their annual “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign will last through the end of 2019 and come to a close on January 2nd, 2020. Drivers across the state can benefit from understanding the consequences of an arrest, especially in light of recent changes to the law.

Penalties according to updated New Jersey law

Changes to New Jersey drunken-driving laws took effect on December 1st, just in time for the holiday season. Notably, drivers with a BAC (blood-alcohol content) level below 0.15 percent will no longer face extended license suspensions. The legal limit in New Jersey is still 0.08 percent. They will, however, face the mandatory installation of ignition interlock devices for anywhere from three months to one year upon a conviction. Drivers will not be permitted to operate their vehicle until this device has been installed.

For drivers with a BAC level above 0.15 percent, the penalties are severe – even for first-time offenders. Penalties include:

  • The suspension of their driver’s license for four to six months
  • The mandatory installation of ignition interlock devices for an added nine to 15 months
  • Potential jail time
  • Fines and insurance coverage surcharges

Penalties for a second or third DWI conviction get increasingly more severe.

Exercising caution on the roads this holiday season

The new law reduces the risk of losing your driver’s license after a first offense, which previously made it difficult for many to get to work yet did little to deter repeated drunk driving. However, the consequences of an arrest are still severe. Drivers should exercise caution and be aware of increased drunk driving enforcement measures across the state.

If you have been charged with DWI/DUI, don’t speak with a prosecutor or investigator until after you have called 908-316-8671 to schedule a free consultation with the experienced legal team at the Law Offices of Anthony N. Palumbo in Cranford.