DWI / DUI Frequently Asked Questions

Victor Rotolo successfully argues before the NJ Supreme Court in a case of constitutional import, in which the Court ruled that a DUI conviction cannot be used in any later DUI case for sentencing purposes if, (1) the individual plead or was found guilty, and (2) the individual was not advised of his/her right to counsel and, as to indigent individuals, the right to assigned counsel.

Picture of Victor A. Rotolo Victor Rotolo, founding partner of Rotolo Karch Law, spent two years as a police officer patrolling the streets of Elizabeth, NJ, before becoming an attorney. This experience, together with over three decades of trial experience, has given Victor a comprehensive understanding of New Jersey State laws pertaining to DUI and DWI violations and offers him a unique perspective to draw from when mounting defenses for clients charged with these violations.

DWI/DUI Frequently Asked Questions

Q: I just got a ticket for a DUI. Will I lose my license?

A: You do face a license suspension if convicted of a DUI (driving under the influence) or a DWI (driving while intoxicated) violation in New Jersey. The question is for how long? First-time offenders with a BAC (blood alcohol content) between 0.08% and 0.10% can lose their license for three months. A BAC of 0.10% or higher carries a license suspension of seven months to one year.

Drivers convicted of a second offense within 10 years of their first offense can lose their license for two years; subsequent offenses carry a license suspension of 10 years.

Q: I had my driver’s license suspended as a result of a DWI. Can I get a conditional license allowing me to drive to work?

A: New Jersey does not provide conditional or special work licenses for drivers convicted of a DWI or DUI. You would need to make alternative arrangements to get to and from work during your license suspension.

Q: My brother has to appear in court on a drunk driving charge. How much can he expect to pay in fines?

A: That answer depends on several factors: Is this his first offense? If not, how long has it been since his previous conviction? What was his blood alcohol content (BAC) at the time of arrest?

A first-time offender with a BAC between 0.08% and 0.10% can expect to receive a fine of between $250 and $400. A BAC of 0.10% or greater carries a fine of between $300 and $500. Repeat offenders face even higher fines.

A driver convicted of a second DUI within 10 years of his or her first offense faces a fine of between $500 and $1,000; for the third and subsequent offenses, the fine is $1,000. These fines do not include other fees and surcharges.

Q: Aside from the fine, what other expenses are related to DUI convictions?

A: There are several fees and surcharges in addition to the fine imposed on drivers convicted of DUIs. They are:

  • IDRC (Intoxicated Driver Resource Center) fee -- $230 for first offenses; $280 for subsequent offenses;
  • Drunk Driving Fund -- $100;
  • AERF (Alcohol Education & Rehabilitation Fund) fee -- $100;
  • Neighborhood Services Fund fee -- $75.

In addition, drivers can expect to pay an insurance surcharge to Motor Vehicle Services of $1,000 a year for three years for first and second offenses, and $1,500 a year for three years for third and subsequent offenses. This surcharge is used to fund debt repayments and alcohol rehabilitation programs. It is in addition to any premiums or surcharges that an individual’s own insurance company may impose.

Q: What happens if I don’t pay the DUI surcharges?

A: You risk an indefinite suspension of your driver’s license if you don’t pay the insurance surcharge imposed on you as a result of a DUI/DWI. In addition, the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission could file action against you in State Superior Court, which could result in a lien against any property you may own or garnishment of your wages.

Q: Is it true I could go to jail for a DUI?

A: Yes. The court could impose a prison term of up to 30 days for first time offenders. Persons convicted of a second offense face a possible jail term of 48 hours to 90 days. Third and subsequent offenses carry a mandatory sentence of at least 180 days.

Q: What is an ignition interlock device and will I be required to use one?

A: Ignition interlock devices measure a person’s blood alcohol content (BAC) and prevent drivers from starting their vehicles if their BAC exceeds 0.05%, even though the legal limit in New Jersey, as in most states, is 0.08%. If you are convicted of driving under the influence, there is a possibility that you will be required to have such a device installed on your vehicle depending on the individual circumstances of your case.

Ignition interlock devices are required for first-time offenders who have a BAC of 0.15% or higher, as well as for repeat offenders. The device must be installed on the vehicle – at the driver’s expense – for the duration of the imposed license suspension and for six months to one year following the license restoration for first-time offenders, and one to three years after license restoration for repeat offenders.

Q: Are there any other penalties associated with a DUI?

A: All persons convicted of driving under the influence in New Jersey will be required to attend the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center for a period of 12 to 48 hours. Second time offenders can also be required to complete 30 days of community service. Anyone convicted of a third or subsequent offense can be sentenced to up to 90 days of community service. This sentence can be applied to reduce an individual’s prison sentence for their DUI offense in some cases.

Q: Are there additional penalties for having an open container of alcohol in your car?

A: Yes, driving with an open container of alcohol in the vehicle is a violation of State law. A first offense carries a fine of $200. Second and subsequent offenses carry fines of $250 and 10 days of community service.

Q: I lost my license because of a DUI but I have no other way of getting to work. What happens if I get caught driving with a suspended license?

A: For one thing, you could lose your license for an additional one to two years. You will also be fined $500 and an additional $250 a year surcharge for the next three years. On top of that, you face the possibility of being sentenced to serve 10 to 90 days in jail.

Q: After my period of suspension has ended, can I immediately start driving again?

A: No, at the end of your suspension period you will need to apply for restoration of your driving privileges before they are restored. New Jersey State Law (N.J.S.A. 39:3-10a) requires payment of a $100 fee for the restoration of any license or registration that has been suspended or revoked pursuant to any law or regulation. This fee is in addition to any fees that may be related to alcohol related suspensions. It is the driver’s responsibility to submit proof of payment of outstanding fines or tickets to the MVC to be restored. Once you have satisfied the reason for the suspension, completed any suspension period that had been ordered and paid the required fees, you will receive a Notice of Restoration in the mail.

Disclaimer: Answers are for general information purposes only and should not be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation.

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