Under New Jersey law, driving while intoxicated (DWI) is a motor vehicle offense that can result in driver’s license suspension, a fine, and a jail sentence. A court may also order someone convicted of DWI to have an ignition interlock device (IID) installed in their vehicle at their own expense. In 2019, the New Jersey Legislature made several changes to the DWI statute. These include modifying the period of driver’s license suspension and making IID use mandatory. The new law took effect at the beginning of December 2019.
Prior DWI Law
Before the new law took effect, New Jersey identified four levels of DWI, based primarily on the number of prior offenses in the ten years preceding the current charge:
1. First DWI offense, with blood alcohol content (BAC) of at least 0.08 but less than 0.10 percent;
2. First DWI offense, with BAC of 0.10 percent or higher;
3. Second DWI offense, regardless of BAC; and
4. Third or subsequent DWI offense.
License suspensions ranged from ninety days for the lowest-level DWI offense, to ten years for the highest. Judges had discretion to order installation of an IID for most first offenses, but it was mandatory for subsequent convictions.