The consequences of a DUI conviction can be severe. Penalties vary based on whether a conviction is your first, second, or third offense. If your DUI involves aggravating circumstances such as reckless driving or an especially high blood alcohol content level (BAC), the judge hearing your case may use this evidence to justify a heavier sentence.

With a DUI conviction, you may face thousands of dollars in fines, months or years of driver’s license suspension, mandatory community service or sobriety programs, or even jail time. You may also be required to install a breathalyzer interlock device (IID) on your car. Chances are also high that your insurance premiums will increase.

Because DUI penalties are so disruptive and because they escalate with each conviction, you want to fight the charges whenever possible. Just because a DUI charge may be your first doesn’t mean you should accept it without challenge, even if the deck appears to be stacked against you. An experienced DUI lawyer can use various legal tools and strategies to challenge the evidence and the strength of the case against you.

With the help of a good attorney by your side, you could lessen your charges, reduce or eliminate the penalties against you, or avoid getting a DUI on your record altogether.

Penalties for DUI in New Jersey

In New Jersey, DUI is considered a quasi-criminal, not a criminal offense. Despite this, the penalties for a DUI are quite strict and can seriously impact your life. This makes it all the more important to get competent legal counsel to help with your case.

The New Jersey DUI threshold is a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of 0.08%. You’re more likely to get exposed to greater penalties if your BAC is higher than 0.10% or 0.15%.

  • For a first NJ DUI offense, your driver’s license could be suspended between 3-12 months. You may owe fines and surcharges totaling over $3000 and face up to 30 days in jail as well as 12-48 hours of training from the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center (IDRC). Your driver’s license will be suspended until you get an ignition interlock device (IID) installed in your car and use it for at least 3-15 months depending on your BAC. If your BAC is 0.15% or higher, you may have to temporarily forfeit your license.
  • For a second NJ DUI offense, you could lose your driver’s license for up to 2 years, owe up to $1500 in fines and assessments and $3000 in surcharges, and get sentenced to serve 30 days of community service and up to 90 days in jail. You will also have to complete 48 hours of detainment at the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center. You will have to have an ignition interlock installed once your license is returned to you. 
  • For a third or subsequent NJ DUI offense, you can have to serve up to 180 days of jail time and lose your driver’s license for 8 years. Total fines, fees, and surcharges could add up to several thousand dollars. You will be required to install an ignition interlock device once your license is returned to you. 
  • Refusing to take a breath test in New Jersey on a first offense requires an ignition interlock device for 9-15 months plus fines, surcharges, and IDRC class for 12-48 hours. 

New Jersey law doesn’t allow plea bargains to be made for DUI charges. That means you can’t simply “plead down” from a DUI to a lesser charge like reckless driving, for example. But that doesn’t mean your case is beyond hope – a DUI lawyer can still help.

Your attorney is in your corner looking out for your best interests at every point of the DUI process. They can help you understand your rights, challenge the evidence against you, and bring up technical or legal issues that undermine the prosecutor’s case. This could lead to either the charges against you getting dropped or minimized to lesser offenses.

Penalties for DWI in New York

New York state has two different types of charges under DUI: a DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) and a DWAI (Driving While Ability Impaired). To be charged with a DWI, your BAC must read 0.08% or higher. If your BAC is less than 0.08% but you fail a field sobriety test or you show other signs of intoxication, you could be charged with a DWAI.

New York will also automatically revoke your driver’s license for a minimum of 6 months after a DUI  conviction, even if it’s your first offense.

  • For NY DWAI offenses you face a suspension of 90 days plus fines, surcharges, and fees, classes, and up to 15 days in jail. A DWAI is a violation and not a crime and will not give you a criminal record. 
  • A NY DWI offense, carries fines up to $500, jail time for up to 1 year, and up to 3 years of probation.There are also classes, surcharges, and fees. You will also have a criminal record. 
  • For a second NY DWI offense within 10 years of the first, the charge becomes a Class E felony that can result in a fine of up to $5000 and prison time for up to 4 years. Your driver’s license will also get revoked for at least 1 year.
  • An aggravated DWI offense in New York involves a BAC of .18% or higher and carries similar consequences, except your license may be revoked for longer, a minimum of 1 year. 
  • Refusing a chemical test in NY such as a blood, breathalyzer, or urine test results in fines and suspension of your driver’s license in NY of 1 year (18 months for subsequent offenses). 

Depending on the facts of your case and the strength of the evidence against you, your attorney may have strategies and options to reduce or eliminate your charges. 

Facing a DWI charge can feel overwhelming – but you can take steps to defend yourself. Schedule a no-risk case consultation with our leading DUI/DWI attorneys now. You can reach us at our New York offices at (212) 372-7218 and our New Jersey offices at (973) 854-0098.