In New Jersey, you can be convicted of driving while intoxicated (DWI)—lots of people use the terms DWI and DUI interchangeably—if you operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or more. A BAC reading can be obtained from a breathalyzer test or a blood sample. You can also be convicted of DWI for operating a motor vehicle while actually under the influence of alcohol, a narcotic, a hallucinogenic, or a habit-producing drug or for allowing someone else to operate your vehicle who is under the influence of alcohol of one of these substances.
A first DWI is considered a first-tier offense when the person's BAC reading is at least .08% but less than .10%. The penalties for a first-tier DWI are less severe than for a second-tier DWI. The penalties include the following:
A first DWI is considered a second-tier offense when the person's BAC reading is .10% or more. The penalties include the following:
For DWIs involving a BAC of .15% or more, the offender will also have to use an ignition interlock device (IID) for six months to one year. An IID is a device that's installed in your motor vehicle that measures your BAC when you blow into it. The device won't allow the vehicle to start if the BAC reading is above the limit set when the ignition interlock device is installed in your vehicle (basically, any measurable amount of alcohol).
If you are convicted of a first-offense DWI and there is no BAC reading, the penalties will be those for a second-tier DWI.
If you refuse to take a breathalyzer test when you're stopped by the police for a DWI in New Jersey, you might be charged with an offense called "Refusal to Submit to Chemical Test" in addition to the DWI. The Refusal to Submit to Chemical Test charge carries severe penalties, which are similar to DWI penalties.