All states have consequences for driving under the influence, even though the penalties vary. Residents in Newark, NJ, commonly hear this referred to as DWI, or driving while intoxicated. Charges may result in court appearances, fines, loss of driver’s license and jail time.
The basics of DWI
A DWI means operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol, causing driver impairment. New Jersey does not classify DUI and DWI as separate offenses, but the penalties could differ based on the circumstances.
When an officer suspects drunk driving, they usually conduct field tests to measure blood-alcohol content. The main tests an officer commonly uses include a breath test, a walk and turn test, and a balance test.
The legal blood alcohol content level limit to be charged with DWI is 0.08, and it is commonly set lower for minors and commercial drivers. A commercial driver may get charged at 0.04 BAC in New Jersey because they have a bigger driving responsibility. A driver could also register below the legal limit and still get charged if the officer finds them too impaired to operate a vehicle safely.
Penalties for DWI
New Jersey made some changes to the law regarding first-time offenses, such as no license suspensions for a BAC under 0.15 and the requirement of interlocking devices. The old law required a three-month license suspension and Intoxicated Driver Resource Center attendance for a BAC of 0.08 to 0.10.
The new penalties for a first DWI with a BAC of 0.08 to 0.10 include 12-48 hours in an Intoxicated Drivers Resource Center, a fine of $50 to $400 and a $3,000 surcharge. A first-time DWI rarely gets jail time, but the maximum is 30 days. The penalties increase for each subsequent charge with higher fines and license suspensions.
Drunk driving charges can cost a driver their independence and freedom. A driver may want to hire an experienced lawyer to help fight DWI charges or get them reduced.