Unfortunately, a conviction for DWI carries a MANDATORY suspension of your driver’s license. Moreover, New Jersey does not have a diversionary program which would allow you to have a work license. For a first offense, there is a two-tiered sentencing structure. For a breath reading of .08 or .09, the suspension period is 90 days. This is referred to as a FIRST TIER offense. For a reading of .10 or greater, the suspension period varies within the discretion of the judge between 7 months to 1 year. This is called a SECOND TEIR offense. A second offense carries a suspension period of 2 years. A third offense carries a 10 year suspension.
The only way to avoid a driver’s license suspension is to beat the DWI case. If a dismissal of the DWI is not possible, a successful defense could result in a reduction of the driver’s license suspension period.
Most first offenders will NOT be sentenced to jail unless their case involves “aggravating factors” such as an automobile accident, personal injury or an excessively high breath reading. If such aggravating factors exist, a person charged with a first offense faces up to 30 days in jail. The possibility of a jail sentence rises sharply for a second offense. A person charged with a second offense faces up to 90 days incarceration. A third offense carries a MANDATORY jail-term of 6 months. A person convicted of a third offense may serves 90 days of this sentence in an in-patient rehabilitation facility.
In addition to monetary fines and assessments, mandatory driver’s license suspension and the possibility of jail time, penalties for a DWI and/or Refusal to Submit to Breath Testing could also involve the installation of an interlock device on your vehicle. The interlock is a breath analysis device installed on the ignition of your vehicle which requires a breath sample before the vehicle will start. The interlock prevents the vehicle from starting if alcohol consumption is detected. For first offenders, the court will require the installation of the interlock device in your vehicle for the duration of your license suspension, plus 6 months to 1 year if your breath reading is .15 or higher. If your reading is less than .15, the interlock device is not mandatory and falls within the discretion of the judge. For second offenders, the installation of the interlock device is mandatory for the duration of your license suspension (2 years) plus an additional 1 to 3 years. For third offenders, the installation of the interlock device is mandatory for the duration of your license suspension (10 years) plus an additional 1 to 3 years. In Refusal cases, the interlock device is mandatory for the duration of your license suspension plus an additional 6 to 12 months.