New Jersey Drunk Driving Update: What is the Cost of a DWI Conviction?

For those individuals who feel that a drunk driving conviction is a minor event, I have news for you. Whatever you call it — drunken driving, driving under the influence, DWI or driving while intoxicated — here in New Jersey there is a wide range of potential outcomes for someone convicted of drunk driving. Almost too many to list right here.

As a New Jersey drunk driving defense attorney, I and my group of legal professionals have represented literally hundreds of clients arrested for DWI over the years. You should know that even under the best circumstances, the personal price of a DWI conviction can be quite devastating. Living with the stigma of a drunk driving conviction on your record can affect a person’s standing in his or her neighborhood, company or professional organization. And there always exists the possibility of job loss, as well as the potential damage that such a conviction can have on familial relationships and those with friends.

Financially, drunk driving is potentially costly, as well. Penalties and fines for second and subsequent drunk driving convictions are certainly large, but even first-time offenders can feel the monetary pain of a conviction. Here are just a few of the typical monetary costs that you could expect to pay for a range of DWI offenses, according to the State of New Jersey (Please remember that jail time/community service could also be included, but is not included here).

First DWI Offense
Expect to pay a $250-$400 fine if your blood-alcohol content (BAC) is 0.08 percent or higher, yet less than 0.10 percent (this increases to $300-$500 fine for a BAC of 0.10 percent or higher); You’ll also end up paying an automobile insurance surcharge of $1,000 per year, which will continue for three years.

Second DWI Offense
The court will typically levy a $500-$1,000 fine. Plus, expect to fork over that $1,000 annual automobile insurance surcharge for three years.

3rd DWI Offense
Third-time conviction will usually net you a $1,000 fine. And the automobile insurance surcharge rises to $1,500 per year for three years.

Having an Open Alcoholic Container in the Passenger Compartment
$200 fine (first offense); $250 fine (second offense).

Refusal to Submit to a Breath Test
$300-$500 (first offense); $500-$1,000 (second offense); $1,000 fine (third offense);
Automobile insurance surcharge of $1,000 per year for three years (first and second offenses); $1,500 insurance surcharge (third offense).

Driving on a Suspended License Due to DWI
$500 fine
All DWI Offenses
There are surcharges in addition to the normal fines. These surcharges range from $50 to $100 dollars depending on where the funds go, such as the drunk driving enforcement fund, Motor Vehicle Commission restoration, Intoxicated Driving Program, Violent Crimes Compensation Fund, Safe and Secure Community Program, plus state and municipal fees.