In the State of New Jersey, Driving Under the Influence (DUI) or Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) is defined under N.J.S.A. 39:4-50. This statute holds that it is illegal to drive a motor vehicle while under the influence of an intoxicating alcoholic substance and it is illegal to drive a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or greater.
You can be convicted of DWI even if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is below 0.08%. If you drive after drinking any amount of alcohol and a police officer can prove that your driving was negatively affected, you can be charged with DWI. Negative effects of such alcohol consumption may include decreased reaction time, subdued alertness, and reduced judgment.
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Consequences of a Second DUI/DWI
The consequences of a second DUI/DWI charge are more extensive than receiving the charge for the first time. Penalties include:
- A $500 to $1,000 fine
- Court-ordered community service for a period of 30 days
- Imprisonment for no less than 48 consecutive hours and no more than 90 days
- Suspension of driver’s license for 1 to 2 years
- Being required to install an ignition interlock device (IID) for one to two years
Additional monetary penalties may include:
- $3,000, payable to the State ($1,000 every year for three years)
- Up to $10,000 in surcharges from your insurance company
- $75 payable to the Safe Neighborhood Services Fund
- $50 to the Violent Crimes Compensation Fund
- $100 payable to the Alcohol Education and Rehabilitation Fund
- $100 to the Drunk Driving Enforcement Fund
- Up to $350 payable to the Intoxicated Driver’s Resource Center (IDRC)
Imprisonment and the IDRC
The mandatory 48-hour jail term for second-offense DWIs can potentially be served at an IDRC, Intoxicated Driver’s Resource Center. IDRCs are substance abuse treatment centers that provide personalized treatment plans and monitor compliance with those plans. Attendance at an IDRC may entail screenings and evaluations for drug and alcohol addictions, counseling, and treatment sessions.
Prior DWI Convictions
If you are being charged for a DUI/DWI for the second time and your prior DUI/DWI charge occurred more than 10 years ago, your penalties may be minimized. This is referred to as the “step-down provision,” which requires the court to sentence you as a first-time offender. That is, for a second DUI/DWI conviction that occurred over ten years after the first conviction, you would face first-offense penalties and fines.
Possible Defenses to a DUI/DWI Charge
Although it is difficult to fight a DUI/DWI charge given the use of breathalyzers, there are several legitimate defenses, including:
- BAC reading was incorrect: Breathalyzers must be maintained and calibrated in a particular way. If law enforcement officials fail to carry these tests out properly or stray from established protocols, breath test results could be affected and a false positive reading could occur. Moreover, certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, can cause a driver’s breath test results to be skewed.
- Field sobriety test was administered incorrectly: If law enforcement is attempting to prove intoxication by way of a failed field sobriety test, it is possible that the test could have been administered incorrectly or improperly.
Consult an Attorney
Considering the substantial fines and penalty fees you might face in addition to a suspended driver’s license and jail time, the implications of a second DWI can be significant. The consequences on your life can be devastating if you lose the ability to travel to and from work, for example. This is why it is important to consult with an experienced DUI attorney, who can help you mitigate such outcomes or even fight off your charge if you have not yet been convicted.
At Rosenblum Law, our attorneys are ready to use their experience with New Jersey DUI and DWI cases to help you avoid potentially detrimental consequences. Call us today for a free, no-obligation consultation.