Third-Offense DWI in New Jersey

New Jersey’s DWI Laws and penalties for a third-offense conviction.

In New Jersey, a conviction for driving while under the influence (DWI) always remains on your driving record. There is no way to remove or expunge a DWI conviction, and a DWI conviction doesn’t expire after any set amount of time. Therefore, a DWI will be considered a third offense DWI if the driver has two prior DWIs (including out-of-state convictions) regardless of how long ago they occurred.

Third-Offense Penalties

New Jersey DWI penalties are more severe with each subsequent DWI, with third-offense DWI penalties being the most severe and including a mandatory jail sentence. A first-offense DWI carries different penalties depending on the person’s blood alcohol content (BAC) level. But with subsequent DWI convictions—including third-offense DWIs—the penalties aren’t dependent on the driver’s BAC.

New Jersey DWI penalties for a third offense include the following:

  • a fine of $1,000
  • mandatory imprisonment in the county jail of not less than 180 days
  • driver’s license suspension of ten years
  • ignition interlock device (IID) for one to three years, and
  • motor vehicle surcharge of $3,000 (payable as $1,000 per year for three years).

Mandatory Imprisonment

The mandatory imprisonment term of 180 days (six months) is the toughest penalty for a third-offense DWI. The jail sentence is required to be served in the county jail and it must be “straight time,” meaning the sentence can’t be served as work release or on weekends only.

The only way to reduce the jail sentence is to get a credit for attending an inpatient drug and alcohol rehab program for a maximum credit of up to 90 days against the mandatory jail sentence.

Prior DWI Convictions at Least Ten Years Old

Though prior DWI convictions never disappear in New Jersey, there’s a “step-down” provision in the law that applies if more than ten years have passed since a driver’s second DWI. Under the step-down provision, the penalties for the third-offense DWI are stepped-down to that of a second-offense DWI. It is important to note that the step-down provision applies only for sentencing purposes. If the driver is convicted of a subsequent DWI, it will be considered a fourth offense.

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