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What are the consequences of a first-time DUI in New Jersey?

Getting pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving can be a frightening experience. If this is your first offense, you might have many questions on potential DUI/DWI consequences to come. Will you be able to keep your driver’s license? Will you have to go to jail?

New Jersey changed its drunk driving law in late 2019, which drastically changed how the state treats drunk driving convictions – especially for first-time offenders. Here is what you should know:

Consequences for a first-offense DUI

If you find yourself facing DUI/DWI charges, you need to know what consequences you’ll face if convicted. Penalties for a first-time DUI charge in New Jersey for blood alcohol content (BAC) between .08% and .10% include:

  • A fine of $250-$400
  • Up to 30 days in jail
  • The suspension of your driver’s license until you install an ignition interlock device
  • Having an ignition lock installed for three months
  • An auto insurance surcharge of $1,000 per year for three years

If your blood alcohol content was more than .10% and less than .15% for a first offense, you’ll face these penalties:

  • A fine of $300-$500
  • Up to 30 days in jail
  • The suspension of your driver’s license until you install an ignition interlock device
  • Having an ignition lock installed for seven to twelve months
  • An auto insurance surcharge of $1,000 per year for three years

You may also be required to complete between 12 and 48 hours of participation with the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center (IDRC), regardless of whether your BAC was .08% or 0.14%.

Ignition interlock devices: What are they?

The law change notably eliminated driver’s license suspensions in many situations, instead favoring the installation of ignition interlock devices. However, it is important to note that even upon a first offense, your driver’s license will still be suspended for a period of three months to up to one year, depending on the details of the arrest, until you install an ignition lock in your vehicle. These devices prevent the driver from operating their vehicle with a BAC of more than .05%, acting as a sort of “everyday breath test.”

A conviction can have long-term effects

DUI/DWI convictions not only come with potentially fines, jail time and the installation of an ignition interlock device. A conviction can limit future employment options, as well as other opportunities. Subsequent offenses come with increased penalties and additional consequences.

Because of how much a DUI conviction can impact your life, you should consult a criminal defense attorney when facing drunk driving charges. You can call our law firm at 732-704-7331 or contact us online to schedule a free initial consultation to see how we can help you.