Recent Changes to The NJ DWI Laws
There have been significant changes to New Jersey DWI Law in 2004. The per se limit has been lowered, and penalties have been increased as follows:
- LOWERED “PER SE” LIMIT.
One of the most significant changes to New Jersey DWI law was the lowering of the “per se” limit from .10% to .08% on January 20, 2004. “The January 20, 2004 amendments now make it illegal to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of .08%. The changes, known as “Florence’s Law” were enacted in response to Federal Law that hinges State’s receipt of highway to their reduction of their per se limit(s) to .08%.
The changes create new tiers of prohibited conduct and penalties. A person convicted for a first offense of driving with a blood alcohol concentration of .08% and under .10% OR driving while “under the influence” (i.e. shown to be intoxicated by the observations made of him) is now subject to a three month license loss and other penalties.
- INCREASED LICENSE LOSS.
When they lowered the limit, the Legislature increased the loss of license for first offenders whose blood alcohol concentration is over .10%. or who are found guilty of driving while under the influence of drugs. Now, the minimum period of license loss is seven months – up from six months. The maximum period of license loss was not changed – one-year.
- HARSHER SENTENCING FOR THIRD OFFENDERS.
The Legislature significantly changes the way that Third-Offenders are sentenced with amendments known as “Michael’s Law.” Before the amendment(s), a third-dwi-offender (or more) was subject to a 180-day jail sentence. That sentence could, however, be structured to avoid jail by 90 days of community service and the balance (the other 90) being served in an in-patient/out-patient rehabilitation program.
There remains a 180-day jail sentence for a third or greater offender. However, the 90-day community service option has been eliminated from the law. A third-offender can still decrease the jail sentence by 90 days with an IDRC “approved” in-patient rehabilitation center. However, the balance of the sentence (90 days) must be served in jail.
- INCREASED PENALTIES FOR REFUSAL TO SUBMIT.
On April 26, 2004, the Legislature increased the period of license revocation for a first offender who refuses to provide breath samples. Now, the mandatory license revocation for a convicted first offender is between seven months to one-year (increased from 6 months).