Penalties for drunk driving in New Jersey increase with each offense, so it gets worse every time you are convicted. This is shown clearly in the sentencing guidelines for a second offense.

This is because unlike a first offense, the penalties do not depend upon your blood alcohol content (BAC) at the time of the stop, as determined by a breathalyzer. It is the same for any reading of 0.08% or higher, or a finding of impairment other than by breathalyzer.

So What Are the Penalties?

You essentially face the following:

  • A fine of between $500 and $1,000
  • $364 in various additional small fines and penalties
  • Thirty days community service
  • Two to 90 days in jail
  • $1,000 in DMV surcharges per year for three years

Jail time is mandatory for a second offense. However, this need not be served in county jail. It can be served in an in-patient rehabilitation center or in the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center (IDRC). The latter tends to be the option in most cases.

Will You Lose Your Driver's License?

You will lose your license for 1 to 2 years (down from the 2 years for offenses committed before December 1, 2019). Bear in mind that the judge will suspend your license on the spot, but this suspension period will not start to run until you have verified with the Motor Vehicle Commission that you have installed an Ignition Interlock Device in a car you own, lease, or principally drive. That IID must remain on the vehicle during the term of license suspension.

But it doesn't end there! Once your license is restored, you must have the device on your car for another 2 to 4 years! This can be a major inconvenience, and certainly expensive, as these devices cost about $100 per month!

Can You Get More Than 2 Days in Jail?

The jail term can be longer than 2 days, depending on the facts of each case. Most judges consider the following factors in deciding whether to extend the period of incarceration:

  • Was there an accident that involved personal injury or substantial property damage?
  • The second offense occurred not long after the first?
  • The BAC reading was extremely high and you engaged in extremely reckless driving conduct
  • You were aggressive with the police officer and a charge of disorderly conduct was filed
  • Any victims make statements requesting harsh punishment

A Conviction Can Devastate Your Life!

A drunk driving conviction can have additional devastating effects on your life, including:

  • the loss of your job if you cannot carpool or use public transportation (NJ does not allow a "to and from work" driver's license)
  • financial distress caused by the loss of income
  • a significant increase in your car insurance premiums
  • The ongoing cost of the interlock device

So Don't Give Up the Fight!

Most people think that there is nothing they can do about their DUI charge; they just give up and plead guilty. Don't surrender; you may have defenses! If you want to know what they are, click here! Then scroll down and see what to do next!

So What Should I Do?

Considering what you face, if you have been charged with drunk driving, you need to consult with a lawyer. If you received the ticket in Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, Salem or Cumberland County, want to do everything you can to avoid conviction, and are ready to act, then call me immediately at 856-432-4113 or contact me through this site to schedule an appointment to discuss your options.

If you are looking for more information on New Jersey's drunk driving law, then download my free book, How Much Trouble Am I In? A Guide to New Jersey Drunk Driving Law.

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