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Sentencing and Prior DWIs in New Jersey

In New Jersey, DWI sentencing is determined based on the number of prior convictions on your record. You may be surprised to learn that municipal judges have very little discretion to make adjustments outside of the sentencing guidelines.

Look Back Period

New Jersey’s look back period for DWIs is 10 years. Priors are broken down as follows under the law:

  • First: either your first DWI ever, or charged a second DWI that occurs more than 10 years after your first
  • Second: either your second DWI (if charged within 10 years of your first) or a third offense if 10 years after your second
  • Third: either a third DWI (charged within 10 years of your second) or a second if charged 10 years after your first. Regardless of how many years have passed, a third or subsequent DWI will always be charged as at least a second.

At the Judge’s Discretion

Judges must adhere to New Jersey’s strict DWI sentencing guidelines, with the exception of imposing fines. Fines will be assessed as the judge sees fit given the circumstances of the case.

The ranges for DWI fines are as follows:

  • First offense: $250-$500
  • Second offense: $500-$1,000
  • Third offense: $1,000 (this is a mandatory fine)

Sentencing and Your DWI

Fines are only a part of the picture when it comes to a DWI sentence. Even first offenders may be subject to jail time and an ignition interlock device. If you have been charged with DWI in New Jersey, do not take chances with the outcome of your case.