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  • James R. Wronko & James V. Loewen

New Jersey Has New DWI (Drunk Driving) Penalties Effective Dec. 1, 2019

New Jersey has significantly changed the penalties for drunk driving (DUI or DWI) but the penalty for driving under the influence of drugs or narcotics, such as marijuana has not changed.

The new law will take effect on December 1, 2019 and shall not apply to offenses occurring prior to that date.

The new law provides that for a first offense with a blood alcohol reading (BAC) of 0.08 and 0.09 a person accused of driving under the influence can avoid a loss of their driver’s license by installing an ignition interlock device in their vehicle for a period of 6 to 12 months as determined by the Municipal Judge. If you elect the loss of license it will be 3 months, which was the mandatory penalty under the old existing law.

If your BAC is 0.1 to 0.14, the Court must impose an ignition interlock device for 7 to 12 months. You must install the interlock device or your license will be suspended indefinitely. Under the old pre-existing law a license suspension was mandatory for a period or 7 to 12 months. Finally for a first offense with a BAC of 0.15 or higher, there is a mandatory 4 to 6 month period of license forfeiture followed by the installation of an interlock device for 9 to 15 months. The old existing law had a mandatory period of license suspension for 7 to 12 months.

For a first offense, essentially the legislature has replaced a loss of your driver’s license with a mandatory period of driving with the installation of an interlock device.

For a second conviction your license is forfeited for 1 to 2 years followed by a 2 to 4 years period of interlock installation. (Current old law was 2 years loss of license)

For a third conviction, the 6 month jail period remains the same but the loss of license is 8 years (existing old law was 10 years) and a mandatory interlock requirement of 2-4 years.

This penalty for refusing to take the breathalyzer when requested by law enforcement is as follows:

1st offense: 6 - 12 months interlock installation, no mandatory loss of license.

2nd offense: 1 - 2 years loss of licenses followed by 2 - 4 years of the interlock.

3rd offense: 8 years loss of license followed by 2-4 years of the interlock.

Whether you are charged under the current law or the new law after December 1, 2019 you should consult one of our DWI/DUI attorney’s who are experienced Municipal Court lawyers. Our attorneys are experienced in defending drunk driving charges and are well known to Municipal Prosecutors and Judges. We have handled thousands of DUI/DWI cases from first offenses to third offenses with mandatory county jail as well as death by auto or vehicular homicide cases. These cases involve a person driving under the influence causing an accident resulting in someone’s death or bodily injury. Our attorneys include former County prosecutors and Criminal Justice Deputy Attorney’s General and Municipal Public Defenders.

Our offices are located in Central Jersey, Somerset County in Somerville and Raritan.

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