You know it is against the law to drive drunk so when you go out partying, you usually designate one of your friends to be the driver. You probably also have an uber or lyft app on your phone, just in case things get crazy.
Then there's the occasion when you don't think you've had too many drinks, don't feel drunk and decide it is ok to drive home. Then suddenly it's not ok. You are pulled over for a broken tail light, missed stop sign, or were swerving and the police officer decides to give you a breath test.
If you have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of more than .08 percent, you can be arrested and charged with a DUI. If you are like most people, a DUI charge is frightening. You don’t know the potential penalties, but you know a conviction will have a negative impact on your life.
While every situation is different, a first-time drunk driving offense presents the following potential penalties.
Penalties for first-time DUI offenders with a BAC of .08 - .10 percent
- Three-month suspension of driving privileges
- Fine between $250 and $400
- $230 fee to the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center (IDRC)
- $100 fee to NJ Drunk Driving Fund
- $100 fee to Alcohol Education and Rehabilitation Fund (AERF)
- $75 fee to Neighborhood Services Fund
- $1,000 insurance surcharge for three years
- $200 fee if an open container is found in your vehicle
- Up to 30 days in jail
- Between 12 and 48 hours in the IDRC
- Screening and evaluation for alcohol abuse
If your BAC is .10 percent or higher, you could lose your license for up to one year. Additional penalties include having an ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle for up to one year after your driving privileges have been restored, driving under the influence in a school zone, refusing a chemical sobriety test, and being under the age of 21 at the time you're charged.
These penalties fall under NJ Rev Stat § 39:4-50 and constitute mandatory fines and actions. Because DUI falls under motor vehicle laws and is not a criminal offense, you won't have a criminal record. However, a DUI is a serious charge and you should seek help from an experienced DUI lawyer who knows the justice system from the inside out. It is even possible to have your charges dismissed when you have a New Jersey attorney who is willing to fight for you all the way.