NJ DWI Defense News: Do Heavy Fines Affect the Frequency of Drunk Driving in New Jersey?

It’s no secret that driving while intoxicated in the New Jersey area can be hazardous to the person who has been drinking, as well as others on the road. Secondarily, the penalties for DWI in the Garden State can carry heavy fines and even jail time.

Although most people do not intend to be charged with drunk driving, the penalties for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol are designed to penalize anyone who breaks the state’s drunken driving laws. As a New Jersey DWI defense lawyer, many of the people whom I have represented over the years are first-time drunk driving offenders.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), last year 154 people were killed in automobile collisions that involved at least one intoxicated person. That figure is reportedly down from 2007, in which 201 people died in DWI-related accidents. 2008 is the latest year for which complete statistics are available. In addition, drunken driving arrests dropped six percent, based on data provided by the state police.

Anti-drunk driving campaigns such as “Over the Limit, Under Arrest” are designed to catch motorists who drive while impaired by alcohol or prescription drugs (drug DUI). If caught, a first-time conviction for DWI with a blood-alcohol content of 0.10 percent or more will result in several mandatory penalties, including loss of driver’s license for up to one year; fines, fees and surcharges of up to $4,000; jail time of up to 30 days; plus 12 to 14 hours of community service.

The penalties for a first time DWI conviction involving a blood-alcohol content greater than 0.08 but less than 0.10 percent is not much better.

It’s conceivable that these stiff penalties are driving the arrest rate down across the state. In any case, the bottom line is don’t drive drunk and if you pulled over, enlist the services of an experienced drunk driving defense lawyer.

A lot at risk, NorthJersey.com, December 18, 2009

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