DWI vs. DUI

For the purposes of the laws in New Jersey driving under the influence (DUI), drunk driving, and driving while intoxicated (DWI) are all the same. Drunk-driving laws in the state of New Jersey are quite strict. This means that you cannot work your way around a DWI, and get a limited driving license. Once convicted of a DWI offense, you will lose your license.

There are a number of ways a person can be convicted of a DWI charge. The state sets the blood alcohol limit at 0.08%. So if a driver is at the limit or even slightly surpassing it, a DWI charge follows. Other than that, you can be charged with a DWI by failing a roadside sobriety test.

These tests can be fairly cumbersome and are quite detailed. They can involve holding a foot above the ground to check the balance of the potential offender, walking heel to toe, and a visual examination by a police officer. People do not have a right to refuse the tests and there are no exceptions for people who do not want to provide a breath or a blood sample. In case of a refusal, the driver is given a DWI ticket regardless, along with a refusal ticket.

There are differences in penalties depending on the blood alcohol level and certain surrounding circumstances.

For a blood alcohol level higher than 0.08% but lower than 0.10%:

The driver can be fined from $200 to $400 and be incarcerated for up to 30 days in the County Jail. Furthermore, the driver’s license is suspended for 3 months.

Blood alcohol level of 0.10% or higher, along with driving under the influence of drugs:

The fines start from $300 to $500 under the First Offense, and can go up to $1000 in the Second Offense. The loss of license can range from 7 to 12 months, and go up to 2 years. There is also an element of community service and spending up to 48 hours in the Intoxicated Drivers Resource Center.

The law is fairly complex in this area, and it may be difficult to describe all the penalties and the surrounding circumstances that can have them imposed. The state aims to provide substantial deterrence in cases of DWI, and aims to facilitate the rehabilitation of those charged. We invite you to call our offices for questions to your answers.