In New Jersey, you can be convicted of driving while intoxicated (DWI) (also called "DUI") if you drive a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08% or greater. The BAC can be determined from a breathalyzer (called the "Alcotest" in New Jersey) or blood test. However, the breathalyzer test is the more common of the two ways officers use to get a BAC reading. You can also be convicted of a DWI in New Jersey for driving while under the influence of a narcotic, hallucinogenic, or habit-producing drug.
New Jersey DWI penalties become more severe for second or subsequent offenses. A first-offense DWI carries different penalties based on BAC level. In contrast, second-offense DWI penalties are the same regardless of BAC. Second-offense DWI penalties include:
For a second-offense DWI, there is a mandatory jail term of 48 hours. However, the court has the discretion to allow the 48-hour term to be served at an IDRC. IDRCs are substance abuse treatment referral centers. that determine individual treatment plans, offer referrals to substance abuse providers, and then monitor compliance with the treatment plans. Attendance at IDRC will include screenings and evaluations for drug and alcohol addictions and participating in an alcohol and drug education program and a highway safety program.
For second or third DWI conviction in New Jersey, there's a "step down" provision that requires the court to sentence the offender as a first or second offender, respectively, if the most recent conviction occurred more than ten years after the most recent prior. In other words, for a second DWI conviction that occurred more than ten years after the first conviction, the offender will face the first-offense DWI penalties. And for a third DWI that occurred more than ten years after the second conviction, the offender will face the second-offense DWI penalties.