Penalties Associated with a DWI Conviction are Significant and Costly for Many New Jersey Drivers

Look at the headlines any day of the week and one can see the volume and frequency of drunken driving arrests here in the Garden State. Is it just us, or do we just have bad luck when it comes to being charged with driving under the influence? Probably a little of both, but one thing is for certain, in a state as densely populated as New Jersey, there is bound to be a large number of any legal offense, civil or criminal. As New Jersey DWI defense attorneys, we fully understand how almost any driver can become a statistic of law enforcement.

This is not to say that we condone drunk driving, but we do know that law of averages suggests a certain percentage of motorists accused of drinking and driving are not going to be convicted, whatever the reason. For those who may think it’s worth the gamble, we would be inclined to dissuade those individuals of any notion that they can drink any alcoholic beverage and get away with it. Too many people have seemed to make a career of being arrested for DWI or drug DUI, and the results are not usually good.

For one, the penalties for repeat offenders can certainly add up. And this doesn’t include the car insurance premium increases mandated by law for first- second- and multiple-time offenders who are convicted of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated by liquor or prescription drugs. Never mind the associated penalties and related costs for individuals who are arrested, charged and convicted of impaired driving by a controlled dangerous substance (CDS), such as meth, cocaine, marijuana and other illegal drugs.

As we said, from a monetary standpoint, a drunken driving or drug DUI conviction can be rather costly, especially for those who are already living close to the bone. In fact, even for individuals of relative means, DWI penalties can be surprisingly high. This applies not only to those convicted of multiple DWIs, but even first-time offenders can be hit hard with various fines, fee and costs. Just take a look below for a partial list of fines and other penalties associated with drunk driving convictions in the Garden State.

First Offense
$250-$400 — BAC of 0.08 percent or over; but under 0.10 percent $300-$500 — BAC of 0.10 percent or over $1,000 annual automobile insurance surcharge (3yrs)

Second Offense
$500-$1,000 $1,000 annual automobile insurance surcharge (3yrs)

Third Offense
$1,000 annual automobile insurance surcharge (3yrs)

Open Alcoholic Container in Car
$200 (1st offense)
$250 (2nd offense)

Breathalyzer Test Refusal
$300-$500 (1st offense)
$500-$1,000 (2nd offense)
$1,000 fine (3rd offense)
$1,000 annual automobile insurance surcharge for 3 years (1st and 2nd offenses)
$1,500 annual automobile insurance surcharge for 3 years (3rd offense)

Driving with a Suspended License (DWI-related)
$500
As can be seen, driving with a BAC of 0.08 percent or more can lead to any number of penalties, fees and fines depending on the circumstances. What most people fail to realize is the importance of consulting with a qualified DWI defense lawyer to better understand one’s particular situation and to know what options are available based on the charges. Many attorneys provide a no-cost consultation, which is always a good first step toward improving one’s chances in court.