Traffic Violations

What Constitutes Driving Under the Influence in NJ?

While many states differentiate between driving under the influence and driving while intoxicated, the terms are used interchangeably in New Jersey. If you are driving above the legal blood alcohol level in NJ, you can face a DUI or DWI charge. The specific penalties you could face depend on how intoxicated you were and whether or not your impaired driving caused an accident. By working with a DUI defense attorney, you can defend your case and help reduce your charges.

What is the Legal Blood Alcohol Level in NJ?

In New Jersey, as with most states, the legal blood alcohol level (BAC) is 0.08%. Driving with a BAC of over 0.08% will result in a DUI charge. However, the level of your DUI charge can change depending on how elevated your BAC was and what your previous driving record looks like. Those experiencing their first offense with a BAC slightly above the limit will have a greater chance of defending themselves successfully with the help of a DUI lawyer.

What are the Penalties for Driving Over the Legal Blood Alcohol Level in NJ?

If you operate a vehicle with an elevated BAC, you’ll face DUI or DWI charges. The specific penalties break down according to your driving history and your BAC.

First Offenses

In most cases, your first offense for a DUI is going to be harsh, but with plenty of opportunities to restore your record and license. The point of a first-offense charge is to dissuade drivers from impaired driving in the future. The penalties for a first offense depend on how impaired your driving was.

For first offenses with a BAC between 0.08% and 0.10%, penalties include:

  • $400 in fines
  • Up to 30 days in jail
  • Suspension of driver’s license until ignition interlock device is installed
  • Use of ignition interlock device for three months
  • A minimum of six hours a day for two consecutive days at an Intoxicated Driver Resource Center
  • Up to $1,000 in insurance surcharges a year for three years

With first offenses with a BAC between 0.10% and 0.15%, penalties include:

  • $500 in fines
  • Up to 30 days in jail
  • Suspension of driver’s license until ignition interlock device is installed
  • Use of ignition interlock device for a minimum of seven months and a maximum of a year
  • A minimum of six hours a day for two consecutive days at an Intoxicated Driver Resource Center
  • Up to $1,000 in insurance surcharges a year for three years

For first offenses with a BAC over 0.15%, penalties include:

  • $500 in fines
  • Up to 30 days in jail
  • Suspension of driver’s license for four to six months once an ignition interlock device is installed
  • Use of ignition interlock device after the suspension period for a minimum of nine months and a maximum of fifteen months
  • A minimum of six hours a day for two consecutive days at an Intoxicated Driver Resource Center
  • Up to $1,000 in insurance surcharges a year for three years

Your first offense for driving over the Blood Alcohol Content level in NJ is the only time that the actual percentage of your BAC matters. In subsequent cases, punishment is the same regardless of how elevated your BAC was.

Second Offenses

If you are found to be driving under the influence for a second time, the penalties you face are much more severe. Fines increase up to $1,000, and you’ll continue to get a yearly surcharge on your insurance – if your insurance company doesn’t drop your policy altogether. Jail time is also guaranteed with a second offense. Drivers charged with a second DUI will face a minimum of 48 hours in jail and could face up to 90 days in jail.

License suspension becomes dramatically affected as well. Drivers will see a minimum of one-year license suspension with a maximum of two years suspension. Drivers will need to continue using the installed ignition interlock device for up to four years after license restoration. In order to restore their license and driving record, drivers will also need to perform 30 days of community service and complete an evaluation program at an Intoxicated Driver Resource Center.

legal blood alcohol level NJ

Third and Subsequent Offenses

Continued driving under the influence charges are considerably more impactful. Imprisonment of 180 days is required, but a judge may rule to split the jail time with 90 days of residency in an inpatient rehabilitation program. License suspension also increases to eight years, and drivers will still need to continue to use the ignition interlock device for up to four years after. Insurance surcharges are also dramatically increased, and many insurance companies won’t even cover drivers with multiple DUI offenses.

What to Do if You Face Charges of Driving Under the Influence

Driving under the influence is a serious offense in New Jersey. If you find yourself facing DUI charges, it’s important that you find a qualified and knowledgeable DUI attorney. Operating a vehicle over the legal blood alcohol level in NJ doesn’t have to spell disaster for your driving record or future. With the help of a lawyer such as Attorney Leon Matchin, you can fight your DUI charges, defend yourself, and lower your penalties. For help with your DUI or DWI case, call Attorney Matchin right away at (833) 732-7320 or email him at leon@matchin.intersectwp.com. The sooner you contact your attorney, the better chances you have at defending your case in court.

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