New Jersey Drunk Driving Laws

When is a Driver Considered to be Legally Drunk in New Jersey?

  • Non-commercial drivers age 21+ are considered legally drunk when their blood alcohol level is .08 or more.
  • Drivers of commercial vehicles are legally drunk when their blood alcohol level is .04 percent or greater.
  • Drivers under 21 are legally drunk when their blood alcohol level is
    .01 or more.

Penalties for Drunk Driving in New Jersey

  • A first-time offender with a BAC of .08 but less than .10 faces a term of imprisonment of up to 30 days and must pay a fine of at least $250 but not more than $400. The offender must also forfeit his or her driver’s license for three months. In addition, a period of detainment of 12 to 48 hours spent during two consecutive days of at least six hours each day is required. During this time, the offender will be required to attend an intoxicated driver program.
  • A first-time offender with a BAC of .10 or higher faces a prison term of up to 30 days and must pay a fine of at least $300 but not more than $500. The offender must also forfeit his or her driver’s license for seven months to one year. In addition, a period of detainment of 12 to 48 hours spent during two consecutive days of at least six hours each day is required. During this time, the offender will be required to attend an intoxicated driver program.
  • For a second violation within 10 years, the offender faces a prison term of up to 90 days and must pay a fine of at least $500 but not more than $1,000. The offender must also forfeit his or her driver’s license for two years.
  • For a third or subsequent violation within 10 years, the offender faces a prison term of at least 180 days in a county jail or a workhouse. The offender must also pay a $1,000 fine. A third and subsequent offender is also required to forfeit his or her driver’s license for 10 years.

Enhanced Penalties for DWI Committed on School Property, Within 1,000 Feet of School Property, or While Driving Through a Designated School Crossing

DWI penalties are enhanced when the violation occurs on school property, within 1,000 feet of school property, or while the offender is driving through a designated school crossing. The penalties are as follows:

  • For a first offense, the offender faces a prison term of up to 60 days. The fine is between $500 and $800. The offender’s driver’s license will be suspended for one to two years.
  • For a second offense, the offender faces a prison term of 90 hours to 180 days. The offender must also perform community service for 60 days. The fine is between $1,000 and $2,000. The offender’s driver’s license will be suspended for four years.
  • For a third offense, the offender faces 180 days imprisonment. The fine is $2,000. The offender’s driver’s license will be suspended for 20 years.

Additional Penalty for Committing a DWI While a Passenger 17 or Younger is in the Vehicle

In addition to other penalties associated with New Jersey’s DWI laws, a person who is convicted of DWI while a person 17 or younger is in the vehicle will be required to forfeit his or her driver’s license for an additional period of not more than six months.

Ignition Interlock

First-time DWI offenders may be required to install an ignition interlock device in every vehicle they own, use, or regularly operate for six months to one year after the offender’s driver’s license suspension period expires.

Second and subsequent DWI offenders will be required to install an ignition interlock device in every vehicle they own, use, or regularly operate for one to three years after the offender’s driver’s license suspension period expires.

Surcharge

All persons convicted of DWI in New Jersey must pay a $150 surcharge. Of this, $75 is payable to the municipality where the conviction was obtained and $75 is payable to the State for deposit into its general fund.

Commercial Drivers

In addition to other penalties associated with New Jersey’s DWI laws, a commercial driver who is convicted of DWI while operating a commercial vehicle will have his or her commercial driver’s license suspended for one to three years for the first offense. If, however, however, the offender was driving a commercial vehicle and transporting hazardous materials at the time, the suspension period is three years. If a commercial driver is convicted of DWI while operating a non-commercial vehicle, the offender’s commercial license will be suspended for one year. If a commercial driver commits a second DWI while operating a commercial vehicle, the offender’s commercial driver’s license will be suspended for life, which may or may not be reduced to a period of 10 years.

Penalties for Underage DWI

An underage person who commits a DWI with a BAC of .01 but less than .08 is required to forfeit his or her driver’s license for 30 to 90 days. The underage offender is also required to perform community service work for 15 to 30 days and attend a program of alcohol education and highway safety. These penalties are in addition to any penalties that may be imposed under New Jersey’s DWI laws applicable to offenders 21 and older.

What is New Jersey’s Licensed Alcoholic Beverage Server Fair Liability Act?

Under this law, a person who is injured as a result of the negligent service of alcohol by a server at a licensed drinking establishment may recover damages from the establishment if the server was negligent; the injury was caused by the negligent service of alcohol; and the injury was a foreseeable consequence of the negligent service of alcohol. A licensed server will be found negligent only when he or she served a visibly intoxicated person or served a minor under circumstances where the server knew or should have known that the person served was a minor. If liable, the drinking establishment is responsible to pay for the percentage of damages equal to the percentage of negligence attributable to the server.

What is New Jersey’s Social Host Liability Statute?

Under this statute, a person who is injured as a result of the negligent provision of alcohol by a social host to a person 21 or older may recover damages from the social host only if the social host willfully and knowingly provided alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person under circumstances that created an unreasonable risk of foreseeable harm to the life of another; the social host failed to exercise reasonable care to avoid that risk; and the injury arose out of a motor vehicle accident caused by the visibly intoxicated person. Under this statute, if a blood alcohol test was given to the intoxicated person, the social host may be held liable if the person’s BAC measured .10 percent or more.

Penalty for Selling or Providing Liquor to a Person Under 21

In New Jersey, a person who sells or provides alcohol to a person under 21 commits a disorderly persons offense, which is a petty offense that subjects the offender to a fine of up to $1,000. Additionally, a person who makes their home available to underage drinkers will also be guilty of a disorderly person offense.

Need more information on state laws? Learn more about the laws where you live.

Note: Our attorneys are licensed to practice law in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Maryland, and Virginia. This information is not intended to solicit clients for matters outside of the states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland, and Virginia, although if you are injured in an accident, we have relationships with other personal injury attorneys and lawyers throughout the United States.

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