As of December 1, 2019 New Jersey has made substantial changes to the State’s DWI laws. This Blog is not a comprehensive list of the fines, fees and penalties associated with a DWI conviction under the new changes, rather it highlights some of the major changes to the law.
If you have been charged with Driving While Intoxicated due to Alcohol, Driving Under the Influence of Drugs, or Refusing to provide a breath Sample, please call our office at (973)-377-7800 for a free consultation. We are conveniently located in downtown Madison New Jersey.
Because New Jersey is one of the few states that does not have a work exception to a license suspension for DWI, many people are unable to get to work when faced with long license suspensions, causing them to lose their jobs. In an effort to address this, the new law significantly reduces and in some cases may eliminate the period of license suspension for first time offenders of both Driving While Intoxicated and Refusing to submit to a breath test. The new law may also result in a reduction of license loss for second and subsequent offenders.
Although the new law decreases the period of license suspension, it will make it mandatory for those convicted of a DWI or Refusal to install an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) in their vehicle.
The Ignition Interlock Device is a small computerized device that records a person’s Blood Alcohol Content, similar to the Alcotest machine used by police in New Jersey. The IID gets installed in the vehicle of someone convicted of driving while intoxicated or refusing to provide a breath sample. The driver is required to blow into the device in order to start the car and must periodically blow into the device while driving, to ensure that the driver is not intoxicated.
Under the new law, the Ignition Interlock Device will be required to be installed in the vehicle principally operated by the offender during and after the period of license suspension. The cost of the installation of the IID will be the responsibility of driver.
WHAT ARE THE NEW DWI/REFUSAL PENALTIES IN NJ?
Under the new law, a first time DWI offender, who has a BAC of between 0.08% and 0.10% will now have their license suspended “until the person installs an ignition interlock device in one motor vehicle the person owns, leases, or principally operates”.
I understand that to mean that if an individual has the IID installed in their vehicle BEFORE they plead guilty to a DWI, their license will only be suspended until they go to the Motor Vehicle Commission and obtain a new license reflecting they are an IID required driver.
A person who falls under this category will be required to pay for and have the IID installed in the vehicle principally operated by them for 3 months. A first time offender will still be required to attend the Intoxicated Drivers Resource Center for 12-48 hours.
If a first time offender’s BAC is 0.10% or higher but less than 0.15% BAC, they too will have their license suspended until the IID is installed in their vehicle. The IID must remain installed in the vehicle for 7 months to 1 year.
0.15% BAC or Higher
If the first offender’s BAC is 0.15% or higher, the person’s driver’s license will be suspended for not less than 4 months or more than 6 months following the instillation of the IID. The IID must be installed during the license suspension and must remain installed in the vehicle for 9-15 months.
DRIVING WHILE UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF DRUGS
It is still unlawful to drive under the influence of prescription or illegal drugs in New Jersey. If a person is convicted of driving while under the influence of drugs, their license will be suspended for 7 months to 1 year. There is no requirement for the installation of an IID in the vehicle of someone convicted of driving under the influence of drugs, presumably because the IID only detects alcohol.
REFUSAL TO GIVE A BREATH SAMPLE
If someone is convicted for the first time of Refusing to Provide a Breath Sample (39:4-50.4a), their license will be suspended until they have the IID installed in their vehicle. The IID must remain in the vehicle for 9-15 months.
SECOND OR THIRD DWI
The new law also changes the license suspension period of a second or subsequent DWI offender. Under the old law, there was a mandatory two year loss of license. The new law requires a license suspension of between 1-2 years. It also mandates the instillation of an IID during the license suspension and it shall remain installed in the vehicle for 2-4 years.
Under the new law, for a third or subsequent offender the license suspension has been reduced from 10 years to 8 years. There is still a mandatory requirement of 180 days in jail, 90 days of which may be served in an inpatient rehabilitation program. The IID must be installed during the suspension and remain installed for 2-4 years after the suspension period.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I’M CHARGED WITH A DWI OR REFUSING TO SUBMIT TO A BREATH TEST IN NEW JERSEY?
Although this new law will reduce the period of license suspension, there are still serious consequences for a DWI conviction and the addition of the new requirement of the Ignition Interlock Device can be expensive. It is important that you consult with an experienced DWI attorney, as there may be possible defenses to your charges. Please contact us at (973)-377-7800 to further discuss your case