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What happens when you get a DUI in New Jersey?

Here's what you need to know...
  • The penalties for driving while intoxicated are progressive and grow more severe with each offense
  • In addition to court fines, there are numerous other fees that must be paid
  • Drivers who have been convicted of DUIs can get SR-22 insurance coverage
The state of New Jersey has established penalties for DUI offenses in an attempt to keep their roadways safe. First-time offenders can wind up dealing with serious fines and surcharges, and repeat offenders may spend some time in jail, in addition to a suspended license.

If you’re facing DUI charges and are wondering what the future may hold for you, here’s what you should know.

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Progressive Penalties

Dollarphotoclub_79342954-1600x1600New Jersey believes in progressive penalties, or penalties that grow more severe with each offense. The fines for a first-time offender start at $250, but they go up to $1,000.

The mandatory fees for a first offense with a blood alcohol content (BAC) between 0.08 percent and 0.10 percent are as follows:

  • Fine of $250 to $400
  • Intoxicated Driver Resource Center (IDRC) fine of $230
  • Drunk Driving Fund payment of $100
  • Alcohol Education and Rehabilitation Fund (AERF) payment of $100
  • Neighborhood Services Fund payment of $75
  • Surcharge of $1,000 per year for the next three years

In addition to the monetary aspect of a DUI, you’ll also face a prison term of up to 30 days and 12 to 48 hours if driver education classes.

If your BAC was over 0.10 percent, but you are a first offender, then the fines and other penalties can change slightly. In this case, you’ll have a minimum fine of $300 to $500, which is higher than the typical fine.

In the event that your BAC was over 0.15 percent, then you may be required to get an ignition interlock device for a period of six months to one year.

People who are convicted of a second offense within 10 years will face serious charges.

While the payments to the AERF, IDRC, Drunk Driving Fund, and Neighborhood Services Fund, as well as any surcharges, will remain the same, you will see a few changes in the other penalties.

These progressive adjustments include:

  • A minimum fine of $500 to $1,000
  • 48 hours to 90 days in jail
  • 30 days of community service
  • 12 – 48 hours spent in programs at the IDRC
  • Two-year license suspension
  • The use of an ignition interlock device for one to three years after restoration of license

Ten years after the first offense, people convicted of a third offense will face the following penalties:

  • Minimum fine of $1,000
  • Surcharge of $1,500 annually for three years
  • 10-year license suspension
  • Prison term of up to 180 days

The use of an interlock device will remain the same, as will the payments to the IDRC, AERF, Drunk Driving Fund, and Neighborhood Services Fund.

Driving On A Suspended License Carries Special Penalties

AdobeStock_69399163-1600x1600The mandatory license suspension that comes with repeat offenses can be hard to live with. Some people decide to drive despite their license suspension, but their choice carries some serious risks.

If you’re caught driving with a suspended license, New Jersey authorities will extend your license suspension by an additional period of time.

In addition to the longer suspension, first-time offenders may face a fine of $500 and a mandatory surcharge of $250 per annum for three years.

The additional suspension, fines, and surcharges rise with each offense. Someone convicted of a third offense can be fined $1,000 and face 10 days in jail.

Drivers who have been convicted of certain crimes may face surcharges beyond the usual fines, license suspension, and jail time.

Surcharges are assessed annually for a period of three years. Failure to pay the fees can lead to additional charges as well as a license suspension.

Harsher Penalties for Commercial Drivers

Individuals with a commercial drivers license (CDL) are often expected to meet higher standards.

These high standards are evident in the penalties allotted to commercial drivers who are convicted of DUI. Such penalties include:

  • A three- to twelve-month basic license suspension and a one-year CDL suspension for the first offense.
  • A two-year basic license suspension and permanent revocation of the CDL for a second offense.

Getting High-Risk Coverage: The SR-22 Plan

AdobeStock_75961762-1600x1600An SR-22, or safety responsibility, document confirms that a driver has the proper insurance coverage. Such a document may be required for drivers who are convicted of driving recklessly, without insurance, or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

The SR-22 certificate is typically required for a period of five years following a DUI conviction.

It’s important to note that an SR-22 is not insurance but is a way for the state to confirm that the insurance provider is aware of the conviction and that the individual has the proper coverage.

If a person fails to pay his or her premium in a timely manner, the individual’s policy will be canceled and the DMV will be notified. The policy holder’s license will immediately be suspended, and it will remain invalid until a new SR-22 is received by the state.

Premiums for high-risk coverage are typically expensive, and such policies are dictated by several factors. In addition to looking at the most recent conviction, insurers will also review the following:

  • Your driving record
  • Your credit score
  • The number of miles you drive annually
  • Your occupation and location
  • Your age, gender, and marital status
  • The type of car you drive

Smart Ways to Lower Your Insurance After a DUI

AdobeStock_65265779-1600x1600Some companies will wait to adjust your premium until you renew your policy, but others will put a surcharge on your policy immediately. If they’re not properly notified of the DUI, they might make the surcharge retroactive to the date of your conviction.

As a high-risk driver, you’ll have limited auto insurance choices. The conviction is typically visible to companies for a period of five years.

However, you can still shop around during this time to look for better rates. When you research, be sure to look for carriers who can provide you with an SR-22 certificate.

Additionally, you can work on cleaning up your driving record during this five-year period. If you remain accident- and ticket-free throughout the course of the five-year period, then you’ll be in a much better position to shop around for insurance.

You can also reach out to your current company and ask to have your premiums recalculated as soon as the five-year period expires.

A DUI conviction can lead to serious problems and expenses for you, but hope does exist. While you have limited choices for insurance companies today, your options will change as your driving record improves.

You can also shop around for different providers to see if any are willing to offer you more attractive rates.

Start comparing auto insurance rates now using the FREE online price comparison tool below!

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