According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, approximately 40 percent of all of the traffic fatalities that occur in the U.S. are caused by an intoxicated driver. In 2010, 153 people died due to drunk driving in the state of New Jersey alone, and more than 26,000 people found out firsthand how severe the New Jersey DWI penalties are. Fortunately, the applicable penalties combined with an emphasis on driver education have helped New Jersey reduce its level of alcohol related traffic fatalities by more than 35 percent since 2000.
Five Penalties of a New Jersey DWI
1) Large Fines – First time offenders in New Jersey will receive a court fine of $250 to $500. The amount of the fine will be calculated partially based on the driver’s blood alcohol content. For example, if your blood alcohol level is a 0.08, the highest fine that you could face is $400. However, if you blow a 0.10 or higher, your fine could reach $500. Drivers who are convicted of a DWI for the first time will also be responsible for a paying a $250 fee to the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center (IDRC), $100 to the state’s drunk driving fund, $100 to the Alcohol Education and Rehabilitation Fund, $75 to the Neighborhood Service Fund and a surcharge of $1,000 a year for three years. The combined total of these fines could be as high as $4,025.
2) A Prison Sentence – Any driver in New Jersey who blows a 0.08 or higher on a breathalyzer test will be subject to the possibility of receiving a prison sentence. The standard sentence given is up to 30 days, and the higher your blood alcohol content was, the greater the odds are that you will end up behind bars.
3) Mandatory Classes through the IDRC – Drivers who commit their first DWI offense in New Jersey will be sentenced to anywhere from 12 to 48 hours at the IDRC. This program provides drivers with education about alcohol and highway safety, and it will also be used to determine whether or not the driver has a substance abuse problem. If a problem is detected, the driver will be referred to the appropriate resource for a treatment program that will last a minimum of 16 weeks.
4) License Suspension – If your blood alcohol content is 0.15 or higher, you will have your license suspended. Although this means that most people below 0.15 will get to retain their license, this is not guaranteed.
5) Interlock Ignition Device – Anyone who blows a 0.15 or higher will be ordered to use an interlock ignition device for a minimum of six months. The device will be installed into your vehicle at your expense, and you will not be able to start the engine without passing a breathalyzer test. Additionally, you will be responsible for paying for a monthly monitoring fee.
As you can see, the fines and other penalties that are associated with a first time DWI offense in New Jersey can be quite steep. When you factor in the cost of obtaining a skilled DWI attorney, you could be looking at a total cost of more than $8,000. Therefore, it is important that you always avoid driving while you are under the influence. After all, failure to adhere to this simple guideline could cost you a lot of money, your freedom and even your life.
Freelance author Anthony Joseph often writes about popular legal topics, and is contributing this article toward the fight against drunk driving. The New Jersey DWI penalties ( http://www.nj-dmv-dwi.com/parts/dwi_faq.html) are pretty stiff. For this reason it’s extremely important to have a well experienced attorney in your corner, to fight the charges and make sure your rights stay protected. Attorney Evan Levow is a nationally recognized lawyer, and his practice is entirely devoted to DWI defense.