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How to Avoid a DUI/DWI in New Jersey

New Jersey has some of the steepest drunk driving penalties in the country. With thousands of dollars in financial penalties and up to 30 days in jail for a standard first-time offense, a DUI/DWI charge is not to be taken lightly.




BAC Limits

Section 39:4-50(a) of the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Code establishes the state’s BAC limit of 0.08 percent. While this is the standard that applies to most drivers with regard to establishing culpability for DUI/DWI, there are actually five different BAC limits under New Jersey law:

  • BAC Limit of 0.08 Percent – Driving with a BAC of 0.08 percent or above establishes culpability for DUI/DWI in New Jersey regardless of your actual level of driving impairment.
  • BAC Limit of 0.10 Percent – If your BAC is 0.10 percent or above, you can face enhanced penalties in your DUI/DWI case. This includes additional fines and a longer driver’s license suspension.
  • BAC Limit of 0.15 Percent – If your BAC is 0.15 percent or above, you can be required to install an ignition interlock device in each of your vehicles for a period of months or years once your driving privileges are restored.
  • BAC Limit of 0.04 Percent – If you hold a commercial driver’s license (CDL), you can be arrested and charged with DUI/DWI if you have a BAC of 0.04 percent or above while operating a commercial vehicle.
  • BAC Limit of 0.01 Percent – Under New Jersey’s “zero tolerance” law, drivers under the age of 21 can be charged with DUI/DWI if they have any alcohol in their system, even if their BAC registers at just 0.01 percent.


DUI/DWI Penalties

In New Jersey, the potential penalties in a DUI/DWI case vary depending upon the specific facts and circumstances involved. Factors that can affect the penalties that are on the table include:

  • Whether you have a prior DUI/DWI conviction (or multiple prior convictions) from the past 10 years;
  • Whether your BAC was above 0.10 percent or 0.15 percent;
  • Whether you hold a CDL or are under age 21;
  • Whether there were minors in your vehicle;
  • Whether you were pulled over for DUI/DWI in a school zone; and,
  • Whether you caused an accident.

To learn about the penalties that are on the table in your case, you can read:


Fines are among the penalties for DUI in New Jersey. When you engage our attorneys to represent you, in addition to fighting to help you avoid jail time, loss of driving privileges and other penalties, we will also seek to minimize your financial liability as much as possible. Some of the potential fines in New Jersey DUI cases include:

  • $250 to $400 for a first-time offense with a BAC between 0.08 and 0.10 percent.
  • $300 to $500 for a first-time offense with a BAC of 0.10 percent or above.
  • $500 to $1,000 for a second DUI offense within 10 years.
  • $1,000 for a third or subsequent DUI offense within 10 years.

Guidelines on Avoiding DUI/DWI Arrest

With these penalties in mind, what can drivers in New Jersey do to avoid a DUI/DWI arrest? While it simply may not be possible to avoid getting pulled over in some cases, steps drivers can take to mitigate their risk of a DUI/DWI arrest include:

  • Know the risks of drunk driving. If you know the safety risks you present to yourself and others, you are far less likely to drink and drive.
  • Know the penalties for DUI/DWI. With the potential for fines, jail time and other penalties, a DUI/DWI conviction can cost you in many different ways.
  • Know the practical consequences of a DUI/DWI. Beyond the statutory penalties for DUI/DWI, if you get convicted, you can lose your job, get kicked out of school and face other life-altering consequences.
  • Know your rights and obligations. If you get pulled over, knowing your rights and obligations can help you avoid mistakes that could lead to an arrest.
  • Don’t drink and drive. Once again, the single best way to protect yourself (and others) is to never drink and drive.

What to Do If You Are Pulled Over

What are your obligations if you get pulled over? What mistakes can increase your chances of a DWI arrest? Our New Jersey DWI lawyers recommend:

  • Stay in Your Vehicle. When you get pulled over, stay in your vehicle with your hands on the wheel until instructed otherwise by the officer who stopped you.
  • Remain calm. It is normal to be nervous, or even scared. But, to avoid mistakes or raising suspicion unnecessarily, it is important to try to remain calm.
  • Be Polite. Being hostile or antagonistic is one of the surest ways to increase your chances of a DWI arrest. Be polite, answer the officer’s basic questions and do not raise your voice under any circumstances.
  • Take the Breathalyzer. You are required to submit to a breath test under New Jersey law; and, if you are asked to submit to the Alcotest improperly, your test results should be deemed inadmissible in court.

Are You Facing DUI/DWI Charges in New Jersey? Call Us Now for a Free Consultation

A drunk driving arrest does not have to mean a DUI/DWI conviction. If you are facing charges in New Jersey, we encourage you to contact us promptly for a free, no-obligation consultation. To learn more about your rights and the defenses you may have available, call Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A. at 877-435-6371 or request an appointment online today.

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