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DWI ArrestDrinking and driving penalties in New Jersey are already severe but a major new change at the federal level might expand the definition of what qualifies as a DUI in the first place.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is now proposing lowering the legal drinking limit from .08 to .05. In New Jersey, the commercial limit is 0.04 while the limit for minors is 0.02. States have sovereignty over their own drinking and driving laws but the federal government uses tactics like tying minimum BAC levels or speed limits to federal highway funding to coerce cooperation.

Like I said, penalties for driving at 0.05 would be stiff unless the legislature carves out a new category:

1st Offense 2nd Offense 3rd Offense
Jail Up to 30 days Up to 90 days Up to 180 days
Fines and Penalties $250 to $500 $500 to $1,000 $1,000
License Suspension 3 months to 1 year 2 years 10 years

Refusing to take the alcotest carries additional penalties:

1st Offense 2d Offense 3rd Offense
Refusal to take test 7 month license revocation 2 year license revocation 10 year license revocation

A more expansive list of penalties, surcharges, and other consequences, also broken down by BAC levels since higher BAC’s carry stronger penalties, can be found here.

Opponents have argued that driving with a BAC of 0.05 isn’t any more dangerous or “distracting” than driving while using a bluetooth device. We’ll see if any New Jersey state-level officials disagree and propose a change to the law.

The good news is that we’re here to help.

Before you plead guilty to a DWI in New Jersey and lose your driving privilege, pay a substantial fine, pay surcharges, pay increased automobile insurance premiums and possibly go to jail, contact the DWI defense lawyers at DeMichele & DeMichele. Our lawyers have worked as municipal court prosecutors and public defenders in several South Jersey towns.  A confidential free consultation with an experienced DWI attorney is just a call (856) 546-1350 or click away.

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Post Author: Matt Rooney

is a New Jersey attorney, former Superior Court law clerk, and noted commentator who focuses his practice on family law, municipal court defense, and personal injury matters. He was recognized by SJ Magazine as a 2018 “Top Divorce & Family Attorney."