On December 1, 2019, the sentencing laws changed in New Jersey in a major way. What this means is, that if you were stopped for DUI after that date, and it is your first offense, you may not lose your license!

Keep Your License if BAC Under 0.15%

Under the new law, punishment favors the use of an Ignition Interlock Device rather than a suspension of your license. You must maintain one on all vehicles you own, lease, or regularly operate for a certain period of time, depending on your blood alcohol level (BAC). Those periods are:

  • 0.08% to below 0.10%: 3 months
  • 0.10% to below 0.15%: 7-12 months

This guideline replaces suspensions under the old law for these readings with an IID for the same time periods. That is, of course, if your reading is below 0.15% If it is 0.15% or above, then all bets are off.

Lose Your License if BAC 0.15% or Higher

If your BAC is 0.15% or higher, then you will lose your license. However, the official suspension does not begin until you have an IID installed in at least 1 vehicle you own, lease, or regularly operate. Once it is installed, then it is:

  • License suspended for 4-6 months; then
  • IID on vehicle for 9-15 months after that

Think you can put things off by dragging your feet on getting the IID installed? Think again! Once you plead guilty, the judge will suspend your license on the spot. You will then have to prove to the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission that you have the IID installed, pay a $100 restoration fee, and then get your license back.

The smart move is to get the IID installed before you plead guilty. Then go directly from court to the DMV and provide them with proof of installation to get your license back. Bear in mind that, even if you have a valid license, you can only drive a vehicle equipped with an IID during the period proscribed by the court.

There Can Still Be Fines, Costs (and Jail Time)!

Although there is a presumption against incarceration on a first offense, it is still possible, depending upon the circumstances. If imposed, it would be for anywhere from 12 hours to 30 days.

Then there are fines and cost, depending on your reading. If it was 0.08% to under 0.10%:

  • A fine of between $250 and $400
  • Approximately $700 in other fees, charges and costs

But if your BAC reading was 0.10% or higher, then:

  • A fine of between $300 and $500
  • $364 in other fees, charges and costs

Do I Still Need to Hire a Lawyer for My DUI?

Even if you are not facing the suspension of your driver’s license, a first offense DUI in New Jersey can still have a devastating effect on your life. It can affect your car insurance premiums and increase your monthly expenses (an IID costs, on average, $99 per month)!

So, if you have been charged with a first offense DUI in New Jersey in Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, Salem, or Cumberland counties, realize that you need to hire a lawyer, and are ready to take action, then call me at 856-432-4113 today for a free consultation in my office. Don’t risk your future!

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Steven J. Richardson
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Bankruptcy, Collections, Student Loan, DUI and Traffic Court attorney in Woodbury, NJ.