In New Jersey, DWI (driving while intoxicated) is considered operating an automobile with a .08 percent or higher BAC (blood alcohol concentration). Whether your actual ability to drive is impacted does not matter if your BAC is found to be at or above this level. On the other hand, if you are impaired while driving, a charge of DWI is appropriate and your BAC is not relevant. If your ability to drive has been impaired and this is caused by the consumption of drugs or alcohol you can be charged. Of note, operating a car extends beyond actually driving a car. Merely starting a vehicle or intending to operate your vehicle subjects you to a charge of DWI.
New Jersey statutes state operating an automobile is consenting to allow the State (the police) to test your breath to determine your BAC. This is called “implied consent.” Refusing this test is its own offense and carries the same penalties as a conviction for DWI. The length of a suspension is based upon prior DWI and Refusal convictions.
- No prior offenses – 3-12 months license suspension for DWI; 7-12 months of suspension of license for Refusal
- One prior offense – 2 years of suspension of license
- Two prior offenses – 10 years of license suspension
You can still be convicted of DWI based upon evidence other than your BAC and thus be subject to the above penalties even without a reading.
After a DWI Arrest, When Should the Police Test Your BAC?
NJ states BAC must be tested “within a reasonable time” after an arrest for DWI. The meaning of this phrase is not exact but since you presumably will not be drinking while in police custody your BAC will typically decrease over time so the longer the wait the lower your BAC will read. Ultimately, whether the time is “reasonable” would be up to a judge.
What is The Maximum BAC For Drivers Under the Legal Age Limit in NJ?
Drivers under age 21 have an extremely strict standard for DWI. For them, driving with a BAC of .01% or more is considered DWI. Remember, the drinking age in NJ is 21 so those under this age are not legally permitted to drink or possess alcohol. Thus, in essence, almost any alcohol found in the system is enough for a conviction. These drivers who drive a vehicle with a BAC of .01 percent but less than .08 percent risk a license suspension of one to three months as well as community service.
Are There Jail Times for a DWI in New Jersey?
The minimum jail times for DWI in New Jersey are:
- First offense – jail is not required but a judge can impose up to 30 days in jail
- Second offense – 2 days in jail
- Third offense – 180 days in jail, 90 of which can be served in an inpatient rehab
Can You Plea Bargain When Charged with DWI in New Jersey?
In NJ, plea bargaining on DWI matters is not allowed.
Are Ignition Interlock Devices (IIDs) Used After a DWI Conviction in NJ?
Ignition interlock devices are mandatory after a first offense of DWI if the BAC of the driver is higher than .15%. If a driver qualifies he or she must have an IID on his or her auto for the duration of the license suspension and then for six months to one year after.
For any subsequent convictions or guilty pleas, IIDs must be installed for the license suspension and then one to three additional years.
Contact an Experienced Hamilton, New Jersey DWI Defense Attorney About Your Drunk Driving Charges in New Jersey
Have you been charged with a DWI or DUI offense in New Jersey? A drunk driving conviction could leave you with a permanent record, and it could result in your driver’s license being suspended for a very long time. That is why it is imperative that you speak with a qualified DWI criminal defense lawyer about your case. Lauren E. Scardella is a lawyer who represents clients charged with drunk driving, breath test refusal, and related offenses in Hamilton and throughout New Jersey. Call 609-250-9881 or fill out our confidential online form to schedule a free consultation about your case. We have an office located at 2653 Nottingham Way, Suite 1, Hamilton, New Jersey.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.