After 2019 Reforms, New Penalties For DWI
The legislature in New Jersey has enacted DWI reforms affecting sentencing laws for first-time DWI offenders. In August, Bill S824 was signed into law. If you’ve been arrested for DWI in New Jersey, it is more important now than ever to consult with a defense attorney immediately. The new law takes effect on December 1, 2019.
Updated Penalties For First-Time DWI Offenses in New Jersey
Under New Jersey’s reformed sentencing guidelines, the license suspension period for a first-time DWI charge has been reduced. Instead of a long period of license suspension, first-time DWI offenders are required to have ignition interlock devices installed in their vehicles. These devices are wired into vehicles and test the driver’s blood alcohol concentration before allowing the vehicle to start. These new sentencing guidelines do not apply to drug DWI, CDL drivers or results above .15 BAC.
New First-Time DWI Sentencing Guidelines
First-offence DWI are based on the driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at the time the offense was committed:
- First- offenders with a BAC of .08% to .10% will face a 30-day license suspension and then will be required to install an ignition interlock device in their vehicle, at their own expense, for three to six months.
- First- time offenders with a BAC of 0.10 to 0.15% will face a 45-day license suspension and then will be required to an install ignition interlock device in their vehicle, at their own expense, for six-12 months.
- First- time offenders with a BAC at or above 0.15% will face a 7-month license suspension and then will be required to install an ignition interlock device, at their own expense, for 12-18 months. Thus, having an attorney knowledgeable on reducing or suppressing the breath test is essential. It can be the difference between losing your license for half a year or not.
There are additional penalties for first-time DWI charges in NJ. These can include a fine up to $500, 12-48 hours at an intoxicated driver resource center, and up to 30 days in jail.
Don’t be fooled by the shortened suspension period for first time DUI offenders. A person with a DUI is looking at a rise in insurance costs on average of about $1200. This can be even higher, depending on your carrier. New Jersey state surcharges of $1000 per year for 3 years, apply too. Likewise, you are responsible for the installation of the interlock device and the monthly cost of maintain it, about $100 per month. At this point, you are staring at an average additional cost, per year of about $3400.
One also needs to consider what having one of these devices means. If you have children or grandchildren, each time you get into the car with them, you will have to blow into the device. Is this the example that you want to set for them? Furthermore, how will you feel when leaving work for lunch or for the night, as co-workers watch you blow into the device? This can be humiliating and can even affect the way you are viewed within the office. The possible ramifications are endless. You will need to pull over every 20 minutes and reinitiate the machine.
Formerly the second offense required a 24-month suspension. Under the new scheme, there is a possibility of reducing the suspension to 12 months. This is only a possibility and never a guarantee. Again, all of the costs will fall upon you, if convicted.
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