To deter people from committing the same crime more than once, New Jersey’s criminal code has many progressively stronger penalties for every subsequent offense. Drinking and driving is a good example of this strategy.
However, this is not to say that a DWI is not a big deal if you have a clean criminal record. Below is an overview of the potential sentences the judge can impose on you if you plead guilty or are convicted, based on the number of prior DWIs you have:
For a first offense, if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is between 0.08% and 0.10%, the penalties you face are as follows:
- Jail sentence: Up to 30 days in jail
- Driver’s license suspension: Three months or until the driver installs an ignition interlock device in their vehicle
- Fines: From $250 to $400
For a second offense, if your BAC is between 0.08% and 0.10%, the penalties you face are as follows:
- Jail sentence: If within 10 years of the prior conviction, 48 hours or up to 90 days, plus 30 days of community service
- Driver’s license suspension: One to two years
- Fines: From $500 to $1,000
- Other: The judge must either order you to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle for two to four years.
Third or subsequent offense
Lastly, for a third or subsequent offense, if your BAC is between 0.08% and 0.10%, the penalties you face are as follows:
- Jail sentence: At least 180 days. However, for each day the defendant spends in an approved inpatient rehabilitation facility, the judge may reduce the sentence, up to 90 days
- Driver’s license suspension: Eight years
- Fines: $1,000
- Other: Ignition interlock device for each of the defendant’s vehicles for two to four years after their license suspension is over.
Among other things, this information shows why you should think carefully before pleading guilty to a DWI charge. While you may be able to put a first conviction behind you after a few months, a second DWI conviction will land you in jail for at least 48 hours and cost you your driving privileges for up to two years. The disruption to your life could lead to you losing your job, your independence and your public reputation.