Could I go to jail for a first-offense DWI in New Jersey?

first-offense DWI

In the state of New Jersey, driving while intoxicated (DWI) is a serious criminal offense that carries harsh penalties. A motorist’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) and any previous DWI convictions influence the severity of the penalties. Alcohol diminishes motorists’ critical driving skills needed to operate a vehicle safely and properly. Motorists who drive while they are impaired by illegal substances will face significant consequences such as fines, probation, license suspension, installation of an ignition interlock device, and even jail time. In the unfortunate event that you have been charged with a first-offense DWI, contact a trusted Middlesex County DWI Attorney who can help defend your rights. In addition, please continue reading to learn about the potential penalties for a first-offense DWI in New Jersey.

Do I have to serve jail time for a first-offense DWI in New Jersey?

In New Jersey, a motorist will be charged with DWI if they operate a vehicle with a BAC of 0.08% or greater. A DWI is a serious traffic violation and those charged will face strict repercussions for their reckless driving behavior. It is common for individuals to wonder whether they can be sentenced to jail time since a DWI is not considered a misdemeanor or felony offense in New Jersey. However, a motorist can still face jail time for a first-offense DWI. The other potential penalties for a first-offense DWI with a documented BAC between 0.08% and 0.01% include:

  • Fines between $250-$400
  • Various fees and surcharges
  • Enrollment in the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center between 12 and 48 hours
  • Loss of license until an ignition interlock device is installed
  • Installation of an ignition interlock device for 3-months
  • Possible jail sentence (30 days)

Ultimately, the higher the documented BAC, the more severe the penalties. For instance, if the motorist’s documented BAC was between 0.10% and 0.15% the potential penalties include:

  • Fines between $300-$500
  • Mandatory IID installation for up to 1 year
  • Up to 30 days in jail

Additionally, if a motorist’s BAC is greater than 0.15% they will face the harshest penalties. Furthermore, there are different penalties for motorists under the age of 21 who are charged with DWI than for those above the age of 21. If a motorist is under the age of 21 and operates a vehicle with a BAC of 0.01% they will be charged with DWI as New Jersey follows a zero-tolerance policy. Essentially, this means the law does not tolerate underage drinking and driving. To possess, purchase, and consume alcohol an individual must meet the legal drinking age of 21. Underage drinking and driving have serious consequences. If an individual is charged with a DWI with a BAC of 0.08%, they can be charged as an adult. This means they will face the same penalties as an adult which means they can potentially face jail time.

If you or someone you care about has been charged with a first-offense DWI, it is imperative to retain the legal services of a skilled attorney as soon as possible. Our determined attorneys can help defend your interests to achieve a favorable conclusion.

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