Penalties and fines: First-time offenses versus repeat convictions

  • Criminal Defense

What Can I Expect If It’s My First Time DUI Offense in New Jersey?

First, you must note that in New Jersey, the courts do not distinguish between an alcohol DWI (driving while intoxicated), and a drug DUI (driving under the influence).

Although the penalties vary, the most common penalties for a DUI can range from losing your license for three months to 10 years, depending on the circumstances and severity of the incident.

Other penalties the court imposes, such as charges and fines, going to jail, and community service, are also variables based on your case.

Usually (unless there are other dire circumstances), the consequences you may face for a DUI in New Jersey are commonly determined by your blood alcohol level and, of course, any past offenses.

Blood alcohol concentration (BAC) and the penalties you could face are essentially based on the following:

  • A BAC that’s above 0.08% but not higher than 0.10%
  • Or a BAC higher than 0.10%.

If the authorities determine that your BAC is above 0.08%, you will likely get a DUI charge.

Additionally, if you have a previous DUI on your record, this will significantly affect the penalties the N.J. court will impose.

Even though the court views DUIs as traffic offenses rather than criminal offenses, a first-time conviction can impose severe legal consequences.

For example, if you’re convicted of a DUI (or DWI) with a BAC of at least 0.08% but not higher than 0.10%, and it’s your first offense, you can still face the following penalties and punishments:

  • Losing your driving privileges for up to 3 months
  • A minimum of twelve hours in jail but no more than 30 days
  • Between a $250 and $400 fine
  • $1,000 added to your auto insurance as an annual three-year surcharge
  • Additional fees and surcharges of $525, and usually more
  • The court could mandate that you use an ignition interlock system in your car for six to twelve months
  • A thorough alcohol or substance abuse assessment, two days of 6-hour mandatory alcohol classes, and more

You also must note that a DWI conviction with a BAC of 0.10% or more will cause the court to give you higher fines and much longer license suspensions, even for first-time offenders. You could also be mandated to forfeit your driving privileges for seven months up to a year.

How Severe Are the DUI Penalties If I Have a Previous DUI Conviction?

If you have another DUI charge within ten years of the first, then, as a repeat offender, things can get rapidly worse. In most cases, your driver’s license will be suspended for at least 1-2 years.

In addition to losing your license, you must use an ignition interlock device for 2-4 years after reinstating your license.

You’ll also face fines up to $1000 (or more), and the same IDRC and auto insurance charges will be implemented as with the first offense. Additionally, you can have 30 days of community service and jail time from 48 hours to 90 days (or more).

After a third DWI conviction within ten years of the second charge, you will likely lose your license for eight years, and you will likely be required to use an interlock device in your motor vehicle for 2-4 years following reinstatement. Your fines will also increase, and so will the insurance surcharges. These can now be $1,500 per year for three years minimum. You could also face up to 180 days in jail.

Note that all the above penalties are bare minimums, and if you have other charges such as injury to others, property damage, etc., you could face life-changing penalties. Therefore, with any DUI charge in New Jersey, you must seek the professional and experienced advice and guidance of a New Jersey DUI lawyer as soon as possible.

How Can a Credit for a Voluntary Interlock Installation Help Me?

There are some ways that your skilled New Jersey DUI lawyer can help you with some of the charges and fines you could have to face.

For example, if you’re charged with DUI and voluntarily install an ignition interlock device and have your license altered with an interlock notation before you’re convicted, you may receive a one-day credit against your license suspension time for every two days the interlock is installed.

You possibly won’t be subject to the $500 to $1,000 fine that the N.J. courts almost always impose.

However, if your accident caused injury to another person or other crimes were involved, you won’t be entitled to any credit for installing an interlock system. For example, suppose you are a parent or guardian convicted of DUI with a minor in the car. In that case, you won’t only lose any chance of credit for installing an interlock system but will also usually be found guilty of a disorderly person’s offense.

Also, other severe problems can rapidly pile up. Let’s say you’re found to be endangering the welfare of a child. You could then be charged with a second or third-degree crime and have a severe issue such as child neglect added to your case.

These cases can be legally complex and rarely just include the DUI charge. By obtaining the advice of a qualified, empathetic, and well-versed New Jersey DUI lawyer immediately, they can work to get ahead of the prosecution’s case and attempt to mitigate your charges or possibly get some dropped altogether.

If I’m Arrested for a DUI in New Jersey, What Should I Do First?

If you’re arrested for DUI in New Jersey, it can be a horrific and stressful experience and possibly have life-changing consequences for you and your family. At the scene, you’ll be asked many questions by the police, and you must know how to protect your rights and freedom.

A New Jersey DUI charge can result in jail time, probation, license suspension, and high fines, even on your first offense. You can also destroy your career, negatively impact your relationships, and more.

Therefore, you must fight to uphold your rights and always take the following steps:

  • Always skilled professional help immediately – New Jersey’s DUI laws are legally complex and severe, and the punishments are far too harsh even to consider not using an experienced DUI lawyer. Your DUI law team must also be well-versed, professional, and proficient in defending DUI cases
  • Immediately, after calling your lawyer, obtain bail – You could be released without bail. However, if other dire circumstances are involved (such as a second DUI offense), posting bail is usually required. When you are released, you must meet with your DUI lawyer immediately

Your lawyer usually has ten days to request a formal DMV hearing. This is a serious matter even if it’s your first DUI, your DUI lawyer’s negotiating skills and experience will prove invaluable.

I’ve Been Arrested for a DUI in New Jersey. How Should I Proceed?

Any DUI charge in New Jersey can cause you and those you love extreme stress and financial harm and negatively disrupt all your lives. Even if it’s your first offense, never make the mistake of taking a DUI charge lightly because you will almost definitely regret it.

The Hernandez Law Firm, P.C. has passionately and successfully defended DUI clients throughout New Jersey for years. They are uniquely qualified, knowledgeable, and board-certified in DUI defense. Don’t accept less than the best.

Call them today at 732-582-5076 for a free consultation on your unique case. Don’t hesitate. Your driving privileges, rights, and freedom depend on it.

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