Unlike Pennsylvania, New Jersey doesn’t maintain a diversion program for 1st time DUI offenders— Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD).
In New Jersey, a person is guilty of drunk driving if he/she operates a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or greater. N.J.S.A 39:4-50. In New Jersey, for a 1st offense DUI conviction where the BAC is .08% or higher, but less than .10%, a person faces the following:
- Fine of $250.00 – $400.00,
- A Maximum of 30 days in prison,
- A Minimum 3 month license suspension,
- A Minimum of 12 hours at an intoxicated driver resource center, and
- An automobile insurance surcharge of $1,000.00 for 3 years. (See P.L. 2003, chapter 314).
If a person has a BAC of .10% or higher or the prosecution can establish that the person was under the influence of an illegal drug the person faces the following for a 1st Offense DUI conviction
- A fine $300.00 – $500.00,
- A maximum of up to 30 days in jail,
- A minimum license suspension of 7 months,
- A minimum of 12 hours at an intoxicated drivers resource center, and
- An automobile insurance surcharge of $1,000.00.
- In cases where a BAC is .15% or higher, a person is subject to all of the above penalties, in addition to an ignition interlock device for a period of 6 months – 1 year after license restoration.
In additions to these penalties for DWI, a person has to pay the following
- A $100.00 fine to the Drunk Driving Enforcement Fund,
- A $100.00 fee to the Motor Vehicle Commission,
- A $100.00 fee to the Intoxicated Driver Program,
- A $50.00 fee to the Violent Crime Compensation Fund Fee, and
- A $75.00 fee to the Safe and Secure Community Program Fund.
Prosecutors in New Jersey aren’t permitted to plea bargain DWI cases. They are, however, permitted to reduce the severity of DUI charge to a lesser tier (lower BAC) under what is known as “prosecutorial discretion. “ For example, if you were charged with a DUI for a BAC of .10, the prosecutor is permitted to reduce it to a lesser DUI charge (.08 – less .10) if he can tell the judge why he is reducing the severity of the charge. A lesser DUI charge means less of a license suspension (7 month to 3 months) and less of fine so it’s an important concept.
Getting a “Tier Drop” requires that your attorney explore issues such as the lack of probable cause for the car stop, your arrest and possible challenges to the results of the Alcotest. Challenging evidence is the only way to get the prosecutor to reduce the severity of your DWI charge. Obviously if your defense is strong enough, you may want to consider rejecting all plea offers and going to trial. Proper DWI case preparation should always include possible pretrial motions such as a Motion to Suppress the evidence against you due to a violation of your rights under the 4th and 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article 1, Paragraph 7 of the New Jersey Constitution. If your Motion to Suppress evidence is successful your case may be dismissed before trial. If your case does precede to trial your defense counsel should focus on the following issues: actual physical control of the motor vehicle; field sobriety test administration and the administration; and results of the Alcotest to determine BAC.
If you have questions about DUI or DWI in Pennsylvania or New Jersey, contact our office at (215) 240-7377 or email us at [email protected]