Implications of New Jersey's DWI law
|Outline by Kenneth Vercammen|
First offender penalties increased P.L. 2003, CHAPTER 314
Previously, a person who drives with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.10% or higher is considered guilty of drunk driving. The New Law, effective January 20, 2004, reduces the BAC that constitutes drunk driving to 0.08%. The basis for this reduction was that the federal government has statutorily mandated that each state establish driving with a BAC of 0.08% or higher as its per se drunk driving offense. Any state that fails to pass such a law will lose a percentage of its federal highway funding.
Under the Law's provisions, if the offender's BAC is 0.08% or higher but less than 0.10%, or if the offender operates a motor vehicle under the influence of intoxicating liquor, or if the offender permits another person under the influence of intoxicating liquor or with a BAC of 0.08% to 0.10% to operate a motor vehicle, the fine imposed would be $250 to $400 and the license suspension would be for three months.
The new law requires persons convicted of a third or subsequent drunk driving offense to be sentenced to a mandatory 180-day term of imprisonment in a county jail or workhouse, but provides that the court may reduce the term of imprisonment for each day, up to a total of 90 days, that the person participates in an alcohol inpatient rehabilitation program approved by the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center (IDRC).
Under old law, persons convicted of a third or subsequent offense of drunk driving are subject to 180 days imprisonment, except that the court may reduce this term by up to 90 days for each day served performing community service. Furthermore, these offenders may not be required to serve their term of imprisonment in the county jail or workhouse, but may serve such imprisonment in an inpatient rehabilitation program.
New REFUSAL Law- Persons who refuse to submit to a test lose their driver's license for seven months to one year for a first offense. Sentence can be concurrent or consecutive.
Previously, persons who commit a first offense of refusing to submit to a breathalyzer test after being arrested for drunk driving lose their license for six months. This bill would increase this period of license suspension to seven months to one year so that a first time offender would receive the same penalties that a drunk driver with a BAC of 0.10% receives.