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How much do you have to drink (BAC*) for a DUI/DWI in New Jersey?

Under 21.02%
21 or older.08%
** BAC = blood alcohol content

How many drinks does it take? 

Find Your Blood Alcohol Level by Using the Chart Below

This table is provided as a reference and it should not be relied upon to determine whether you are capable of operating a motor vehicle nor should it be considered legal advice. Always keep in mind that there are a number of variables that can influence whether you are legally qualified to drive. 

People often ask, "How many drinks does it take to become legally drunk?"

That’s the wrong question to ask because it presupposes that there are a fixed number of drinks that are acceptable before you get behind the wheel. That’s not the case. For example, if you are taking medication, one drink could put you into the "DUI" category. For some people, it often takes very little alcohol to become legally drunk and certain physical characteristics such as weight, gender and body fat percentage can all be factors in the equation. Eating can also affect your outcome – you are more likely to fail a blood alcohol test if you do not eat. So, practically, if you’re wondering how many drinks you can have before driving, the best answer is ‘None.’ Legally, in all states you should not be operating a motor vehicle with a .08 percent blood alcohol concentration (BAC). In other words, whether or not you consider yourself "drunk," the law considers you to be an offender if your BAC is above .08%.

What if you refuse to take a chemical test in New Jersey?

New Jersey has an implied consent law. That means that if you refuse to submit to a chemical test you will be subject to a fine and automatic license suspension. Learn more about New Jersey’s implied consent law, below.

License revocation for refusal to take test

                  1st Offense           2nd Offense          3rd Offense

                  7 months               2 years                  10 years

Minimum jail time

                 1st Offense            2nd Offense           3rd Offense
                 12 hours                 2 days                    90 days 

Lookback Period: 10 years (Period of time that prior DUI/DWIs are relevant for sentencing. Also known as a “washout” period.)

Can you plead to a lesser offense than DUI/DWI in New Jersey?

A defendant might receive a "wet reckless," or a conviction of reckless driving involving alcohol, as a result of a plea bargain in which a charge of drunk driving is reduced to a case of reckless driving. There is no statutory provision on whether a wet reckless plea bargain will be accepted in New Jersey, but it's possible a lawyer may be able to create a plea bargain for you.

First NJ DWI Offense - 1st Drunk Driving Conviction

Jail – Up to 30 Days
Fine – From $250-$400
Fine – From $300-$500 (Blood Alcohol Level .10 or Above)
License Suspension – 3 Months
License Suspension – 7 Months to 1 Year (Blood Alcohol Level .10 or Above)
Ignition Interlock Possible
Other DWI Fees - $525 Minimum
Automobile Insurance Surcharge - $1,000 for 3 Years
Attend Intoxicated Driver Resource Center – 2 Days at 6 Hours per Day

Second NJ DWI Offense - 2nd Drunk Driving Conviction

Jail – Up to 90 Days
Fine – From $500-$1,000
License Suspension – 2 Years
Other DWI Fees - $525 Minimum
Ignition Interlock Possible
Automobile Insurance Surcharge - $1,000 for 3 Years
Community Service – 30 Day

Third NJ DWI Offense - 3rd Drunk Driving Conviction

There is a minimum fine of $1000.
The loss of license shall be at least 10 years and possibly more.
There will need to be a minimum of 180 days spent in jail.
The DMV will charge any violators an additional $1000 for three years if the conviction occurs within three years of the most recent conviction then it will be $1500 per year for three years.
There will need to be an ignition interlock device installed on the car for 1 to 3 years after reinstatement of license after ten years.
There is no work driving privileges during the minimum 10 year license suspension.
There are other smaller fees that are incurred as well as a result of receiving this conviction: $200 DWI enforcement fund, $75 safe neighborhood fund and $33 in court costs among other fees and fines you will be charged and face.

Implied Consent

New Jersey law requires you to take a breath test if you are arrested for a DWI. New Jersey’s “implied consent” law says that if you are lawfully arrested by an officer who has probable cause to believe that you have been driving while intoxicated, then you consent to taking a chemical test of your breath for the purpose of determining your blood alcohol content (BAC). The test must be taken at the time of your arrest. If you refuse to take a test, however, then the officer cannot force you to take one.
You could be arrested for a DWI even if you are not driving. If you let another person drive your car and you know that that person is drunk, then New Jersey law says that you, too, can be convicted of a DWI. The state has made this law to punish people who put drunk drivers on the road just the same as the drunk drivers themselves.

Refusing to Take the Test

Once you are arrested, the officer will request a breath test and should tell you your rights if you submit to a test as well as the penalties if you choose not to. If you submit to the test, then you can have a copy of the test results and you have the right to have an additional breath, blood, or urine tests taken by a medical professional of your choice. The penalties for refusing to take the initial breath test begin with a suspension of your license for seven months and a fine from $300 to $500. You will lose your license for two years and have to pay a fine of $500 to $1,000 if this is your second refusal. For your third refusal, the suspension lasts for ten years and the fine is $1,000. Additionally, if you refuse to take a chemical test after you have been arrested for a DWI when driving on school grounds, through a school crossing, or even within 1,000 feet of a school, the penalties are doubled.

Should You Refuse to Take a Mandatory DWI Test in New Jersey?

It usually does not help you to refuse to take a blood, breath, or urine test when you are arrested for a DWI. In New Jersey, the consequences for a first DWI include fines, jail time and a three-month suspension of your license. These consequences are more severe than refusing a chemical test. Still, refusing the test does not guarantee that you won’t be convicted – you could be found guilty of a DWI even if your refusal means that the state does not have proof that your BAC was over.08%, the legal limit for those over 21. In fact, the prosecution can use your refusal against you by arguing that you refused the test because you knew that you were intoxicated and guilty of DWI. 

Get Help With Your DWI

Do you need a lawyer to represent you in a DUI case? Hiring an experienced DUI attorney always has its benefits -- familiarity with the court system, knowledge of plea bargain details, and the ability to navigate complex administration procedures. It's especially important if you are a repeat offender. Unlike other traffic related charges, which might be worth fighting without a lawyer, conviction for a DWI has serious consequences – especially if the incident involved injury to people or property, or if it’s your second or subsequent DWI. To avoid or reduce the consequences, your best bet is to find an attorney who is knowledgeable about your state’s laws and about how the system works in your county’s courts. Please contact us to discuss your situation at 201-850-1100.





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8512 Kennedy Boulevard, Suite 2, North Bergen, New Jersey 07047
Phone: (201) 850-1100  Fax: (201) 850-1101