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Home Trending New Jersey Has Some of The Strictest DUI Laws in The Country

New Jersey Has Some of The Strictest DUI Laws in The Country

Drunk driving is a serious threat to lives and property. According to the NHTSA, an average of thirty-two people a day die in drunk driving crashes — the equivalent of one person every 45 minutes. Over 11,000 people died in drunk driving crashes in 2020, and the statistics have continued to rise.

Driving while alcohol impaired is illegal everywhere in the United States, and for good reason. Every state has its own drunk driving laws, but driving under the influence in New Jersey carries some especially harsh penalties.
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New Jersey’s DUI Laws

One of the ways in which New Jersey’s DUI laws stand apart is it has a two-tiered system for blood alcohol level. The legal limit for blood alcohol content is .08%, and the first tier of penalties for DUI in New Jersey ranges from .08% to .09%. If your BAC is .10% or higher, you enter the second tier of penalties for driving while under the influence. These include fines, suspension or loss of your driver’s license, and potential jail time. Repeat offenses will also result in harsher punishments.

(This number only applies to adults over the age of 21 — any driver under 21 must have a 0% BAC to avoid conviction.)

But the negative effects of driving under the influence extend beyond civil penalties — they will also make driving much more costly and difficult. Ross Martin at The Zebra shares this stunning statistic: a DUI conviction will raise your annual car insurance premiums by a staggering 94% — meaning instead of the $1,400 yearly average for car insurance in New Jersey, you’ll be paying upwards of $3,900. Add in repeat violations or a conviction for driving with a suspended license, and your rates will go up even higher. You might even end up getting dropped by your insurance company. Either way, it will become nearly impossible to find cheap new jersey car insurance with a DUI on your record.

The penalties for driving while impaired don’t just apply to alcohol (although that is the most common cause). You can also be penalized for driving while under the influence of illegal drugs, or even prescription drugs. Additionally, you can be convicted of a DUI violation if you’re found sleeping drunk in your vehicle while it’s running.

Penalties for a DUI Conviction

Here’s a more thorough rundown of the penalties for DUI convictions in New Jersey.

For a first conviction of driving with a BAC over the .08% legal limit, the offender will receive a fine of $250-$400, and could be imprisoned for up to 30 days. They must also spend a total of twelve hours in an Intoxicated Driver Resource Center and may have their license suspended. They will also be subject to an automobile insurance surcharge of $1,000 / year for three years (that’s on top of the raise in premiums). For offenders with a BAC of .10% or over, the fine raises from $300-$500, and driver’s license forfeiture until an ignition interlock is installed (more on that below).

Repeat offenses carry even more serious penalties.

A person obtaining their second DUI conviction in ten years will face a minimum of 48 hours in prison, up to 90 days. Ignition interlock will be required for one to three years afterward, as well as the aforementioned license surcharge. For third offenses, expect to pay $1,000 in fines and at least 180 days in prison, as well as an eight-year suspension of your driver’s license and thirty days of community service.

Furthermore, a parent or guardian who’s found drinking while intoxicated with a passenger under 18 in the vehicle will have their license suspended for a maximum of six months, and must perform up to five days of community service.

These penalties also apply to anyone refusing to submit to a breathalyzer or blood test, which is an automatic DUI conviction by New Jersey Law. Multiple offenses escalate just as they do with regular DUI charges, and could result in massive fines, license forfeiture, and more.

Technological Solutions

One way New Jersey is helping to enforce DUI laws is with an interlock ignition device. These devices are installed on the offender’s vehicle for a set period, depending on the severity of the violation. They require the driver to blow into a breathalyzer before starting their vehicle. If the device detects alcohol, the vehicle will not start. New Jersey has recently instituted new laws that require every drunk driving offender to have such a device installed on their vehicle for anywhere from a few days to several months.

Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is always dangerous and never acceptable, but if you’re a New Jersey driver, expect harsher penalties if you decide to take that risk.

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