Drunk Driving Defense Laws in New Jersey

Getting stopped for a DUI in New Jersey is serious business. New Jersey has implied consent laws in place for those suspected of driving while intoxicated. This means that after being arrested, drivers who refuse to submit to a breathalyzer test to record their blood alcohol content can be forced to submit a blood sample. This can help prosecutors prove you were legally drunk.

Garden State authorities recognize that those convicted of DUIs may have unaddressed substance abuse issues that factored into their arrest. Consequently, they have incorporated a mandatory screening, evaluation and stay of 12 to 48 hours at one of the Intoxicated Driving Resource Centers located around the state.

Driving Under the Influence Initiative

New Jersey has allocated $7.5 million in a special fund for providing substance abuse treatment to indigent New Jersey residents with DUI arrests and convictions. After being evaluated, those who are financially eligible can receive free treatment for their addictions. The program was implemented in 2005 to make the highways safer for all and to reduce the recidivism rate for DUI offenders.

While the state providing treatment programs for those struggling with substance abuse issues is a laudable effort, drivers in New Jersey still face serious penalties if convicted of driving under the influence. Below are some possible fines and sentencing guidelines the courts can impose:

Penalties for First Offense DUI Convictions with BAC Levels of .08 but Less Than .10

  • Possible 30-day jail term
  • 90-day loss of driving privileges
  • Between 12 and 48 hours of alcohol awareness classes at the IDRC
  • Fines of $250 – $400
  • Fee of $230 to IDRC
  • Fee of $100 to the state’s drunk driving fund
  • Fee of $100 to New Jersey’s Alcohol Education and Rehabilitation Fund
  • $1,000 per year for three years surcharge
  • $75 fee to Neighborhood Services Fund

As can be expected, the penalties increase in severity with convictions stemming from higher BAC levels and upon subsequent DUI convictions. For example, those drivers whose BAC was .10 percent and higher face mandatory license suspensions of seven months to a year and must have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle during the suspension and for six to 12 months after their licenses have been reinstated. They also face up to a month in jail.

Those caught driving under suspension after a DUI conviction face up to two more years’ suspension of their driving privileges, additional fines and fees and up to a 90-day stint behind bars. Drivers who fail to pay any of the surcharges resulting from their DUI convictions will have their driving privileges indefinitely suspended. Further sanctions may be filed by the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission against them in Superior Court, and can include wage garnishment and having liens secured against any property owned by the driver.

Since so much is at stake when a driver is arrested for DUI, it is recommended that he or she retain a New Jersey criminal defense attorney to represent him or her in court. While no attorney can ever guarantee an acquittal on charges, having an experienced legal professional to launch a robust defense against DUI charges is a good idea.