Drunk drivers are responsible for 30 traffic fatalities every day in the United States, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The latest statistics from 2017 show alcohol-related crashes happen every 48 minutes, claiming more than 10,000 lives each year.

NHTSA says 125 people in New Jersey were killed by alcohol-impaired drivers in 2017, which was a decrease from the year before when 137 died. However, a study by financial website WalletHub that same year ranked the Garden State 45th for strictest DWI laws.

What are the penalties?

In New Jersey, a driver can be charged with a DWI when their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) exceeds 0.08%. The penalties for a first offense are:

  • $250 to $400 fine
  • Additional fees and surcharges of $425
  • Up to 30 days in jail
  • Suspended license for three months
  • Auto insurance surcharge of $1,000 per year for three years
  • 12 hours in an intoxicated driver program split over two days

Additional penalties can also be costly

New Jersey is an “implied consent” state, meaning anyone who operates a vehicle automatically consents to breath testing for DWI. Drivers can still refuse, but the refusal is treated as a separate offense, which can bring its own penalties, including the installation of an ignition interlock device.

Penalties get steeper when a BAC level reaches 0.10% or higher, or for repeat offenders, driving drunk with a suspended license due to DWI and for driving drunk with a person under the age of 17 in their vehicle.

Get legal help if charged with DWI

A DWI conviction can have many long-lasting consequences impacting your personal and financial well-being. If you are stopped, don’t admit to drinking and seek the advice of an experienced defense attorney here in New Jersey. Your lawyer will protect your rights and make sure officers had probable cause to stop you and that they correctly performed field and sobriety tests. A successful defense can result in reduced penalties, and in some cases, charges being dropped.