Although Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) offenses are defined as traffic offenses rather than criminal, convictions can carry heavy legal consequences. If you are charged with a DWI where injuries have occurred, you may face a felony-level criminal charge in addition to the DWI.
It is important to consider that New Jersey does not recognize a difference between a DWI and a DUI, or Driving Under the Influence. Although this is the case, punishments are not the same for every case.
Here is what you need to know about DWI accidents in New Jersey:
First Time Offense
Even when it comes to a first-time DWI offense, you may have to deal with serious penalties. If you are convicted with a DWI in New Jersey with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of at least 0.08 percent, but lower than 0.10 percent, at your first conviction, you could face between $250-$400 in fines, alternative fees and surcharges in excess of $525, and a 1,000% annual automobile insurance surcharge for 3 years.
Jail time could be at least 12 hours, and you may then have to report to an Intoxicated Driver Resource Center for two days of 6-hour alcohol classes. On top of all that, you may also lose your driving privileges for 3 months and be subjected to an alcohol/substance abuse assessment.
Potential Costs of a DWI
A first-time DWI conviction can be very expensive. There are multiple subcharges and associated expenses. Such costs include a drunk driving enforcement fund subcharge, court costs, safe neighborhood service funds, physician’s fee, and DL restoration fees.
There are also charges associated with educational resources such as Alcohol Education, Rehabilitation & Enforcement Fund and the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center, and even expenses associated with multiple assessments.
It is also important to note that if you are unable to pay the relevant charges, your driving privileges may be suspended indefinitely. The Motor Vehicle Commision (MVC) may file a claim in a Superior Court to acquire a lien against your property and take possession of your wages.
Second Degree Offenses
DWI accidents in New Jersey can result in rather severe penalties, even for a first offense. If you repeat the same offense, the consequences can dramatically increase. Also, repeat offenses are not represented based on blood alcohol concentrations. A BAC of 0.08 percent will receive the same penalty as one of 0.10 percent.
New Jersey identifies multiple penalties for a second-degree offense within ten years of original offense. These include: A minimum charge of $500 and maximum of $1,000 in fees, and an automobile insurance surcharge of $3,000.
The offender’s license will be suspended for at least two years, and an ignition interlock device will be applied to their vehicle. The offender will have to spend between 2 and 90 days in jail and take part of a 12-48 hour program at an Intoxicated Driver Resource center.
The penalties stated above are not limited and depend on the case presented. There are other potential surcharges and associated costs that may arise, such as a neighborhood service fund surcharge, and educational fees.
Third Degree Offenses
Precisely like the previous offenses, a repeated violation will result in more severe penalties. If the arrest occurs within ten years of the second offense and the BAC is 0.08% or higher, it will result in a third DWI offense.
New Jersey has many serious consequences for a third-degree DWI, which include a minimum fine of $1,000 or more and a $4,500 automobile insurance surcharge within a 3-year interval. You may also be required to attend a 12-48 hour course in the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center, dedicate 90 days to community service, and spend 180 days in jail.
Regarding driving permissions, under a third degree offense, the offender will have their license suspended for ten years and will have an ignition interlock service associated with the relevant vehicle.
As with other degrees of DWI offenses, there are other surcharges and fees, which include a neighborhood services fund surcharge, alcohol education and rehabilitation fund, and IDRC fees.
If you’ve been arrested for driving while intoxicated, seek legal advice immediately. While New Jersey seeks to aggressively prosecute individuals charged with a DWI, there is still hope for building a strong case. Contact the Law Offices of James C. Dezao, P.A. now at (973) 358-6134 to get started.