The Law - Definition of Impairment:

In New Jersey, a person is guilty of drunk driving if he/she operates a motor vehicle with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or greater. BAC refers to the amount of alcohol in your blood. Although the law refers to a 0.08 percent BAC, you can be convicted of driving while under the influence of intoxicating liquor even when your BAC is below 0.08 percent. The BAC threshold determining drunk driving was changed from 0.10 percent to 0.08 percent in early 2004. Consuming even small amounts of alcohol dulls the senses, decreases reaction time, and hampers judgement, vision and alertness. If you consume any amount of alcohol and your driving is affected, you can be convicted of drunk driving.


Parents and Guardians:

A parent or guardian who is convicted of driving under the influence and who has a minor under age 17 as a passenger in the motor vehicle is also guilty of a disorderly persons offense. In addition to the penalties otherwise prescribed by law, a person shall forfeit the right to operate a motor vehicle for a period of not more than six months and shall be ordered to perform community service for a period of not more than five days.

The Penalties:

1st Offense:

As per P.L. 2003, CHAPTER 314, two categories were created for first time offenders based on BAC levels. Parameters for the two categories and corresponding penalties are as follows: If the offenders’s BAC is 0.08 percent or higher but less than 0.10 percent, or if the offender permits another person with a BAC over 0.08 percent but less than 0.10 percent to operate a motor vehicle, the penalties are as follows:

A fine of $250-$400*
Imprisonment for up to 30 days*
3 months license suspension*
A minimum of six hours a day for two consecutive days in an Intoxicated Driver Resource Center
An automobile insurance surcharge of $1,000 a year for 3 years.
If the offenders’s BAC is 0.10 percent or higher, or the person operates a motor vehicle while under the influence of a narcotic, hallucinogenic or habit-producing drug, or permits another person with a BAC of 0.10 percent to operate a motor vehicle, the penalties are as follows:

A fine of $300-$500*
Imprisonment for up to 30 days*
A license suspension between 7 months and 1 year*
A minimum of six hours a day for two consecutive days in an Intoxicated Driver Resource Center
An automobile insurance surcharge of $1,000 a year for 3 years
2nd Offense:

A fine of $500-$1,000*
Imprisonment of at least 48 consecutive hours, and up to 90 days*
2 - year license suspension*
48 consecutive hours detainment in a regional Intoxicated Driver Resource Center, at a charge of $100 a day
An automobile insurance surcharge of $1,000 a year for 3 years
3rd Offense:

A fine of $1,000*
Imprisonment of 180 days*
10 - year license suspension*
Detainment in an in-patient alcoholism treatment program
A fee to be paid to the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center dependent upon court sentence
An automobile insurance surcharge of $1500 a year for 3 years
Any Offense Also Carries:

$100 surcharge to be deposited in a drunk driving enforcement fund
A Motor Vehicle Commission restoration fee of $50 and an Intoxicated Driving Program fee of $100
A Violent Crimes Compensation Fund fee of $50
A Safe and Secure Community Program fee of $75:
Registration Revocation/Ignition Interlock:

In addition to the penalties listed, judges may order the installation of an ignition interlock device or the revocation of vehicle registration (Public Law 2000, Chapter 83).

The ignition interlock device, which measures the driver’s blood alcohol level, may be required for up to three years following license restoration after a DUI conviction.

* If occurring within a school zone or school crossing, this penalty is increased under Public Law 99, Chapter 185.

Consequences of Underage Drinking and Driving:

In New Jersey, you must be 21 to purchase, possess or consume alcoholic beverages. Underage drinking is illegal and can have severe consequences for young people who drink and for adults who provide alcoholic beverages to those under 21.

If you are under 21 and you buy or drink alcohol in a place with an alcohol beverage license, you may be fined $500 and lose your license for 6 months. If you do not have your driver’s license, the suspension starts when you are first eligible to receive a license. Also you may be required to participate in an alcohol education or treatment program.

If you are under 21 and drive with any detectable amount of alcohol in your system (.01 BAC or above), you will be subjected to the following penalties:

Loss or postponement of driving privileges for 30 to 90 days
15 to 30 days of community service
Participation in a program of alcohol education and highway safety
Driving with a Suspended License due to Driving Under the Influence:

A fine of $500
10 to 90 days imprisonment
1 to 2 years added license suspension
If you have a crash and someone is hurt while your license is suspended, you face a mandatory 45 day jail sentence
Revocation of motor vehicle registration
Refusal to Submit to Breath Test:

1st offense - $250-$500 fine and a 6-month license suspension*
2nd offense - $250-$500 fine and a 2-year license suspension*
3rd offense - $250-$500 fine and a 10-year license suspension*
Automobile insurance surcharge of $1,000 a year for 3 years for 1st and 2nd offenses, $1,500 for 3rd offense
$100 surcharge to be deposited in a drunk driving enforcement fund
Possessing an Open Container in the Passenger Compartment:

1st offense - $200
2nd offense - $250 fine or 10 days of community service
* If occurring within a school zone or school crossing, this penalty is increased under Public Law 99 Chapter 185.