NJ Drunk Driving Defense Update: Financial Impact of a DWI Conviction in New Jersey

Driving while intoxicated, DWI or driving under the influence, whatever term you use it all adds up to lost driving privileges and extensive fines, not to mention possible job loss and being disgraced in the eyes of your family or local community. Here in New Jersey, being convicted of a drunk driving charge can result in a range of possible actions by the court to punish the convicted drunk driver.

As a New Jersey drunk driving defense attorney my firm represents hundreds of individuals every year in cases of driving under the influence of alcohol. A number of these cases involve human as well as social costs. Even under the best of circumstances, the financial cost of a DWI conviction can result in expensive court fines as well as higher insurance rates for years to come.

The stigma alone of a alcohol-related DWI or drug DUI conviction can affect a person’s standing in the community, possible loss of a job, or potential damage to relationships with family and friends.

A DWI conviction can be expensive. Fines and penalties for additional drunk driving convictions are large, but even first-time offenders can feel the sting. Below are just a few of the potential monetary costs that can be expected for a variety of drunk driving offenses, according to the State of New Jersey (Remember that jail time or community service may also be included if the court deems it necessary).

A first DWI offense will typically cost a motorist $250 to $400 in fines for a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher (but less than 0.10 percent). This fine rises to $300-$500 if your BAC is 0.10 percent or higher. Plus, there is an automobile insurance surcharge of $1,000 per year, which will last for three years.

Being convicted for a second DWI offense will get you a $500 to $1,000 fine, plus an automobile insurance surcharge of $1,000 per year for three years.

Conviction for a third DWI offense will result in a $1,000 fine, as well as an auto insurance surcharge of $1,500 per year for three years.

If you refuse to submit to a breath test, be prepared to hand the state between $300 and $500 for your first offense. This fine ranges between $500 and $1,000 for a second offense, and $1,000 for the third. In all instances, the insurance surcharge applies — this will total $1,000 per year for three years for the first and second offenses; and $1,500 for the third offense. If you are convicted of driving on a suspended license due to a previous DWI your fine will typically be $500.

All of these fines are in addtioin to several other surcharges that the state applies to every DWI conviction:

  • $100 — Drunk driving enforcement fund
  • $100 — Motor Vehicle Commission restoration fee
  • $100 — Intoxicated Driving Program fee
  • $50 — Violent Crimes Compensation Fund fee
  • $75 — Safe and Secure Community Program fee
  • $100 — $50 for the state of New Jersey and $50 for the municipality in which the conviction was obtained