Legislators and law enforcement officials in New Jersey view driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs as risky, not only for the driver and passengers but also for other motorists. A blood alcohol concentration (BAC) or other potentially harmful substance impairs a driver’s reflexes and judgment and increases the risk of an auto collision. While a DUI is a traffic infraction heard in municipal court, a driver involved in an accident while intoxicated may face much more severe charges. 

A single DUI can have serious repercussions, including license suspension, driving restrictions, penalties, surcharges, and other costs. Being found guilty can have negative effects now and in the future. If there is an accident, you might also face a superior court trial for a fourth-degree, third-degree, or second-degree felony, particularly if someone is seriously hurt.

Engaging a New Jersey DUI lawyer is even more valuable if you were charged with DUI and arrested or involved in a car accident. If someone was hurt in the collision, this “aggravating aspect” may result in harsher sanctions or even criminal prosecution.

How severe is a DUI charge in New Jersey?

A first-time culprit with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 to 0.10 who did not cause an accident is subject to a $250 to $400 fine and a potential 30-day jail sentence in New Jersey. A breathalyzer test determines a driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC). This test is typically conducted after the driver is stopped by the police for driving recklessly or in another suspicious manner.

In addition to paying fines, they must install an ignition interlock in their vehicle, spend two days in an IDRC, and pay a $1,000 insurance surcharge annually for three years before they can legally drive again. An IDRC is an alcohol treatment and testing institution that offers education and monitoring. If the driver blows a BAC of.08% or above into the car’s breathalyzer, an ignition interlock device disables the vehicle. The time the driver’s primary vehicle must retain an ignition interlock device and the severity of the penalty increase with the BAC.

Second-time offenders face the following:

  • Fines between $500 and $1,000
  • Up to 90 days in jail
  • A one- to two-year license suspension
  • 30 days of community service
  • An ignition interlock device for 2 years after the license suspension is lifted
  • 48 hours in an IDRC
  • Three years of $1,000 insurance surcharge payments. 

For a third offense, the driver faces the following:

  • The fine increases to $1,000
  • The maximum jail sentence is six months
  • The license can be withdrawn for up to eight years
  • An interlock device must be maintained for two to four years after the suspension period has ended
  • The IDRC program must be completed
  • The insurance surcharge increases to $1,500 annually.

In addition to the standard DUI penalties, there are extra fines and sentences for DUI-related license suspension, refusal to submit to a breathalyzer test, DUI with a minor passenger, and DUI by an underage driver.

The takeaway

An experienced DUI defense lawyer in New Jersey can assist you in challenging the integrity of the evidence used to support a DUI charge against you.