What Happens if I am found Guilty of a DWI in New Jersey

Man Being Pulled Over by the Police

If you have already been convicted of one or more prior DWIs, any additional offense will result in much more devastating penalties. Even if you only had one prior drunk driving conviction, a second offense will usually result in mandatory jail, loss of license, and other increased punishments compared to the first offense. A third or subsequent offense will result in even more serious sentencing. These consequences are required by law – if you are found guilty, there is very little flexibility when it comes to a second, third, or subsequent offense. Moreover, recent court cases have ruled that an out-of-state DWI conviction will probably count as a prior offense in New Jersey and it will be used against you to enhance your penalty.

Jail Time

On a first offense, someone convicted of DUI can face up to 30 days in jail, although it is extremely rare for a judge to give the driver any jail time unless the drunk driving incident involved aggravating factors, such as serious damage or injury. Excluding those factors, a typical first offender will not go to jail unless they fail to comply with other aspects of the sentence (mandatory counseling, fines and such).

On a second offense, a driver convicted of DUI must go to jail for a minimum of 2 to 90 days.

Again, this portion of the sentence will depend on a number of aggravating factors that a judge could take into consideration, including whether the drunk driving resulted in serious damage or injury.

On a third or subsequent offense, a driver convicted of DUI must go to jail for 180 days. This jail sentence is flexible to a very limited degree. With the approval of the judge, 90 of the days can be performed at an in house drug / alcohol counseling rehabilitation center, but the first 90 days must be served in jail first.

Loss of Driving Privileges

For a first offense, someone convicted of DWI can have their license suspended for either 3 months (if his or her blood alcohol content is between .08% and .09%) or 7 to 12 months (if his or her blood alcohol content is .10% or greater). If this is the first offense, a judge has a lot of flexibility in deciding how long to suspend a driver’s license. If in a school zone, the period of suspension is a minimum of 1 year up to 2.

For a second offense, however, a judge has no flexibility to decide. The driver’s license is taken away for 2 years. The length of time for suspending the license is specifically required by law, although it can be even longer if the second offense occurred while the driver had a suspended license or if the driver was operating the vehicle in a school zone.

On a third offense, a driver convicted of DWI will lose his or her license for 10 years. Again, this period of time is required by law, and it can be increased if the driver is in a school zone or driving with a suspended license at the time.

Fines and Other Penalties

Second, third, or subsequent drunk driving offenses can also result in increased fines and other penalties, such as mandatory community service.

For instance, the first time a driver is convicted for drunk driving, monetary fines are decided by the judge, between $200-500, plus $389 in additional mandatory fees. A second time offender must pay between $500-1000, plus the mandatory fees. A third time offender or more must pay $1000, plus the mandatory fees.

A second time offender must also participate in 30 days of community service, while a third time offender or more must provide up to 90 days of community service.

Finally, while a first time offender who is convicted with a blood alcohol content of .15% or greater must have an ignition interlock device installed on his or her vehicle during the period of license suspension and 6 months – 1 year following restoration. This period of time is increased to 1-3 years following restoration following the second or greater time a driver is convicted of a DUI.

Depending on the number and circumstances of prior DWI convictions, there may be even more penalties that a driver must face each time he or she is convicted of drunk driving. While many of the consequences are mandatory and allow little flexibility, being represented by an attorney can still help to reduce some of these penalties or help the driver present a defense in light of the very serious charges. For instance, if 10 or more years have passed since a driver’s most recent DUI offense, an attorney will be able to step down the offense from a third offense to a second offense or a second offense to a first offense, helping to reduce the penalties and the sever impact of those consequences on the life of the driver.

New Jersey DWI Lawyer Edward M. Janzekovich is Ready to Defend Drivers with Multiple Offenses

If you have ever been convicted of a DUI or DWI, you know how serious the consequences of that conviction can be. Subsequent drunk driving offenses will result in even greater penalties that can result in life changing consequences, including increased jail time, loss of driving privileges, and fines. There are many ways to beat a DWI charge. To speak with an experienced New Jersey DWI lawyer about your situation, call us at 732-257-1137 or contact us online today. We serve clients in Ocean County, Monmouth County, Mercer County, Middlesex County, Union County and Somerset County.