What Happens When You Get a DWI in New Jersey?

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If you or a loved one has an issue with substance abuse and has been pulled over while driving under the influence, you may be dealing with a DWI or DUI charge. Getting arrested for driving under the influence is a serious offense. It is understandable to be scared and unsure of how to move forward.

Getting a DWI in New Jersey could come with some serious ramifications, like losing your license for 3 months to 10 years. Depending on the severity of your charge, you may be facing fines, surcharges, jail time, and community service. However, if you are prepared for court and dedicated to making positive changes in your life, the system will take notice of that.

Let’s take a look at exactly what happens when you get a DWI in New Jersey.

First Offense DWI Penalties in New Jersey

While DWIs are classified as traffic offenses, convictions can carry substantial legal consequences. Even if it is your first DWI offense, you might be facing significant penalties. New Jersey takes driving while under the influence very seriously.

A first offense DWI penalty in New Jersey is defined as an individual driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of at least 0.08%, but lower than 0.10%. Additionally, it must be your first time being convicted of a DWI charge.[1]

If you receive a first offense DWI charge, you may be facing the following penalties:

  • Loss of your driving privileges for 3 months
  • Ignition interlock for 6 to 12 months
  • At least 12 hours of jail time, but no more than 30 days
  • Between $250 to $400 in fines
  • A $1000 annual insurance surcharge for 3 years
  • Additional fees and surcharges exceeding $525
  • Mandatory alcohol or substance abuse evaluation
  • Two sessions of 6-hour alcohol classes at an intoxicated driver resource center (IDRC)
  • Forfeiture of your driving privileges for 7 months to 1 year

Second Degree DWI Penalties in New Jersey

DWI charges in New Jersey are serious and costly, even if it is your first offense. If you are a repeat offender, the ramifications of your DWI charges will increase significantly. This is intended to prevent individuals from getting behind the wheel while intoxicated. Unfortunately, individuals struggling with substance use disorder may be unable to stop drinking and continue having to deal with DWI charges.

A second-degree DWI charge in New Jersey occurs when an individual is caught driving with a BAC level higher than 0.08% after previously being charged with a separate DWI in the past 10 years.[2]

If you are charged with a second degree DWI, you will face the following penalties:

  • Fines ranging from $500 to $1,000
  • 30 days of community service
  • 12-48 hours of classes at the intoxicated driver resource center (IRDC)
  • $3,000 in automobile insurance surcharges for the next 3 years
  • Jail time ranges from 2 to 90 days
  • A minimum of 2-year license suspension
  • An ignition interlock device while your license is suspended and after your license is reinstated

Unfortunately, these penalties are not the only ones you could face. There are several other surcharges associated with DWI offenses, such as local surcharges, fees, and the cost of an ignition interlock device.

Third Degree DWI Penalties in New Jersey

Third-degree DWI penalties have even worse consequences. To be charged with a third-degree DWI offense you must be driving under the influence for the third time within 10 years.

The following outlines the consequences for a third-degree DWI penalty in New Jersey: [3]

  • Minimum fine of $1,000
  • A maximum of 90 days of community service
  • 12-48 hours of classes at the IDRC
  • $4,500 in automobile surcharges over 3 years
  • 180 days of jail time
  • 10 years of license suspension
  • An ignition interlock device

These are only the standard fees and penalties for DWI charges in New Jersey. As with the second-degree DWI penalties, you may be facing additional surcharges and fines.

What Happens After Getting Arrested for a DWI?

When you are driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, a police officer may pull you over under suspicion of drunk driving or for an unrelated traffic offense. Regardless of the reason you were pulled over, an officer will perform a breathalyzer test if they suspect you have been drinking. If you are believed to be intoxicated, you will be arrested and brought to the police station.

Here is what usually happens after you get arrested for a DWI in New Jersey.

Tickets Are Issued

First, you will be released from the police station and given one or more traffic tickets. The officer will issue a ticket for the DWI and any other traffic infractions they observe. This could mean a ticket for running a red light, reckless driving, or speeding. If you don’t have someone to come to pick you up, you may have to stay at the police station until you sober up.

Court Date is Set

Next, you will be assigned a court date for your DWI charges. This is the date you will be arraigned for your DWI. The court date will be written on the bottom of your DWI ticket. Typically, the court date will happen a few days after the arrest occurred, so this happens pretty quickly. You should hire an attorney before the court date so they can advise you on how to plead.


During the arraignment, the judge will read your full set of charges, explain your rights under the law, and ask you to plead guilty or not guilty. If you plead guilty, you will be sentenced right then and there. However, if you plead not guilty, the judge will set a separate court date for trial.

It is important to hire an attorney when you are charged with a DWI offense in New Jersey. Oftentimes, mistakes are made during a first-time DWI arrest. The sooner an attorney can take a look at your case, the more likely you will receive a positive outcome.

Find Treatment for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism in New Jersey

Negative consequences associated with substance abuse, especially those that occur more than once, are one symptom of addiction. Most people who drive under the influence have a substance use disorder. Whether it be alcoholism or drug addiction, New Jersey Interventions can help you recover. Contact us today for more information on how to find professional addiction treatment.


  1. https://www.state.nj.us/lps/dcj/agguide/dwi2005-penaltytable.pdf
  2. https://www.nj.gov/lps/hts/downloads/dui-bro-eng.pdf
  3. https://www.nj.gov/humanservices/dmhas/resources/services/treatment/sa_idp.html

Medically Reviewed: November 11, 2021

Dr Ashley

Medical Reviewer

Chief Editor


All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

Dr Ashley Murray obtained her MBBCh Cum Laude in 2016. She currently practices in the public domain in South Africa. She has an interest in medical writing and has a keen interest in evidence-based medicine.

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

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