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DWI Laws in New Jersey

A. New Jersey DWI Overview

Driving Under the Influence (DUI) or Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) is a Motor Vehicle violation in the State of New Jersey, which is defined in N.J.S. 39: 4-50. This is known as “drunk driving” in general, and considered to be one of the most serious motor vehicle violations in the state. As one can easily imagine, the associated fines and other penalties are so severe as to negatively impact one’s life.

New Jersey is a “Blood Statute” State, which means that the Law as to operating vehicles not requiring a commercial driver license (CDL) is written in terms of Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) rather than Breath Alcohol Concentration (BrAC). BAC is defined as the percentage of alcohol concentration in one’s blood. Although the defendants’ blood is sometimes drawn at a medical facility and BAC is measured and used in court, New Jersey law enforcement often takes defendants’ breath samples and uses BrAC as a proxy for BAC. This is mostly because breath samples are relatively less expensive to take and simpler to administer. Using law more than science, the BrAC is converted to BAC based upon a ratio, which is known as a Blood-Breath conversion ratio. New Jersey, as in all states in the United States, uses the ratio of 2100:1.

As shown in the table below, the legal limit is defined by the type of vehicle. Most of you may be aware that the legal limit is 0.08; but this applies only to drivers who were driving a vehicle for which a commercial driver license (CDL) is not required. If you were driving a CDL-requisite vehicle, 0.04 is the cut-off point. If you are under 21 years of age, the limit is 0.01 for any kind of vehicle. Drivers under 21 years of age are subject to being charged under N.J.S. 39:4-50, drunk driving, and N.J.S. 39:4-50.14, driving while having consumed alcohol. Note that drinking underage is a separate motor vehicle offense, and is also categorized as a disorderly persons (petty criminal) offense. If you are underage and get arrested for DWI or DUI, you will also be subject to being charged with disorderly conduct.

Type of Motor Vehicle
Legal Limit
 
Non-CDL
0.08 BAC

CDL

0.04 BrAC
21 Years of age or younger*
Any Motor Vehicles

0.01 BAC

* Drinking underage is another offense. People under 21 years of age who get arrested for DWI or DUI will be charged with disorderly conduct, which is categorized under criminal law.

 

 

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