New Jersey DUI Laws

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New Jersey DUI laws state that anyone who is driving with a blood/breath alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or above can be charged with a DWI, or “driving while intoxicated.” Anyone under 21 can be charged if their BAC is higher than 0.01%.
Each year, over 10,000 people in the US are killed on the road as a result of drunk driving crashes.
Driving while under the influence of a substance, whether alcohol or drugs, is a dangerous crime. Every state sets its own penalties, but even a first-time offense can cost the driver up to $10,000 in legal fees and fines. A DUI in New Jersey will most certainly impact your car insurance rates, too.
Here’s what you need to know about the DUI laws in New Jersey, compiled by Jerry, the car insurance comparison and broker app.
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What is a DUI?

DUI is an acronym that stands for driving under the influence. In other states, they use other acronyms to mean the same thing. New Jersey uses DWI to mean “driving while intoxicated or impaired.”
A Jersey driver can be charged with a DWI for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This is inclusive of legal drugs like prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs.
Intent to drive is enough to convict someone of a DWI in New Jersey. You can even be convicted as a vehicle owner if you permit an intoxicated person to operate your car.

DWI in New Jersey

In New Jersey, it is illegal to operate a vehicle with a blood alcohol level of:
  • 0.08% or higher if you’re 21 or older
  • 0.04% or higher if you hold a commercial driver’s license
  • 0.01% or higher if you’re under the age of 21
You can be charged with a per se DWI if your BAC is measured to be .08% or higher, even without proof of intoxication.
If your BAC was .10% or lower, you will face standard DWI penalties. However, if your BAC exceeded .10% or .15%, then you will face more extreme consequences—even on a first offense.
In every state, there is an implied consent law that says you consent to be tested if an officer suspects you of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
If you are lawfully arrested for a DWI, you are required to submit to a urine, blood, or breath test. Your vehicle will also be impounded for 12 hours.
New Jersey drivers who unlawfully refuse a breathalyzer test can be penalized with revocation of their license and fines. You do not have the right to consult with legal counsel before taking the test.

Penalties for a DWI in New Jersey

Penalties for DWIs are very harsh and the conviction will remain on your driving record for 10 years in New Jersey.

First conviction

In New Jersey, a first-offense DWI for a driver 21 and older could result in the following penalties:
PenaltyDescription
Fine$250 to $500
Jailminimum of 30 days
License suspensionminimum of 3 months
Vehicle impoundmentYes
SR-22 requirementYes
Ignition interlock devicePossible
The state can require you to install an ignition interlock device (IID) in your vehicle, which will prevent you from starting the car if there is any alcohol on your breath.
After a first-time offense, you will have to participate in the intoxicated driver resource program (IDRC) for three months. If your BAC was higher than .10%, the court may order you to participate for a longer period (between seven and 12 months).
Additional penalties will be incurred if you were transporting minor passengers or drove within 1,000 feet of a school.
Additionally, there is zero-tolerance for minors driving under the influence. People under the age of 21 may not carry alcohol inside a vehicle unless a parent is present and the container is unopened, full, and sealed.
The following are the penalties for a first conviction, underage WWI:
PenaltyDescription
FineNo
JailNo; 15-30 days of community service
License suspension30-90 days
Vehicle impoundmentYes
SR-22 requirementYes
Ignition interlock devicePossible
According to New Jersey DUI laws, underage offenders are also required to participate in the IDRC or a similar treatment program. The driver is responsible for paying all associated fees for the program.
Key Takeaways First-time offenders will face certain consequences for a DUI, which increase if the offender is transporting a minor or has a BAC of over .10%.

Subsequent convictions

If you are convicted of a DWI again, you will be subject to increased penalties.
PenaltyDescription
Fine$500 to $2,000
Jail48 hours to 180 days
License suspensionUp to 20 years
Vehicle impoundmentYes
SR-22 requirementYes
Ignition interlock deviceYes, 1 to 3 years
On top of fines, convicted drivers must pay a $100 victim’s fund fee, a $125 drunk driving surcharge, and court costs.
IDRC fees vary, but a day of treatment usually includes six hours and a $75 fee for a first offense. New Jersey allows treatment days to count toward the offender’s jail term (up to 90 days).
There’s one more financial repercussion—a driver who refuses testing or is convicted of DWI in New Jersey must pay an annual insurance surcharge for three years. For first-time offenders, the fee is $1,000 per year (or $3,000 total). Subsequent offenses carry a $1,500 annual fee (or, $4,500 total).

Hardship license

Many states offer hardship licenses so that convicted drivers may still drive to and from essential appointments like work. Unfortunately, New Jersey is not one of them.
Key Takeaway Minimum penalties are usually increased if you had a very high blood alcohol concentration or if you were involved in an accident where someone was injured—even for a first conviction.
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Does a DWI impact car insurance in New Jersey?

Yes, insurance companies pay very close attention to DUI and DWI convictions. You will be classified as a high-risk driver for insurance purposes, which typically increases your premium substantially.
You may find it challenging to find insurance in New Jersey with a DWI on record. The best strategy is to shop around. The Jerry app can compare rates from up to 50 top insurance companies—in just 60 seconds—so you don’t have to deal with crowded browser tabs or judgy salespeople.
With a conviction on your record in New Jersey, you can expect much higher rates than your previous payment.
You will also need to find an insurance company that can file an SR-22 on your behalf. This confirms that you have the state-mandated minimum insurance, and it’s required before you are allowed to drive again.

Other effects of a DWI

On top of the penalties and higher insurance rates, you could face additional consequences due to a DWI conviction.
License revocation: After a DWI or DUI charge, you will probably have your license revoked.
Ignition interlock device: Every state has a version of the ignition interlock program, which requires drivers with a DUI or DWI conviction to install this device in their vehicle. It can disable your engine if any alcohol is detected on your breath.
Background checks: Employers who pull a background check will see your DWI conviction. It will stay on your record for 10 years, meaning that your job prospects could be in jeopardy for a decade due to a single conviction.

How to find cheap insurance after a DWI

Jerry is the easiest and most effective way for someone with a DWI conviction in New Jersey to find a customized car insurance policy.
If you want to save money on car insurance, the Jerry app is a good place to start. A licensed broker, Jerry does all the hard work of finding the cheapest quotes from the top name-brand insurance companies and buying new car insurance. Jerry will even help you cancel your old policy.
Jerry brought my insurance deductible down from $2.5k to $1k without me having to switch companies. I even had a ticket on my record. If it can help me, Jerry will definitely help you save money.” —Maxwell N.
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