As we approach the holiday season, we look forward to festive celebrations with family, friends, and coworkers. For some partygoers, that means a cocktail or two. Unfortunately, that also means more inebriated drivers on the road. According to the Department of Transportation, the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day sees an average of 300 people fatally injured in drunk driving car accidents every year. Before joining in the festivities, New Jersey drivers should know about recent changes regarding driving under the influence (DUI) and driving while intoxicated (DWI) laws that increase penalties for first-time offenders and shift the focus from license suspension to the use of Ignition Interlock Devices (IID).

Ignition Interlock Devices for First Offenders

In August, New Jersey became the 34th state to mandate IID for all DUI/DWI offenders, even for first offenses. Any driver who refuses to submit to a breath test or is charged with a DUI/DWI offense is required to pay for and install the device in their vehicles. An IID is a small digital device that records the user’s blood alcohol content (BAC). The driver blows into the device when starting the car and periodically while driving to verify their BAC stays under 0.08 percent. If the BAC is over the acceptable limit, the car will not start.

An Overview of New Jersey DUI/DWI Laws

All first-time offenders will have their license suspended and are required to purchase, install, and utilize an IID for the duration of and after the suspension. License suspensions start at 30 days and increase with a higher BAC. Penalties vary by case, but a first-time offender can also expect:

  • Incarceration from 12 hours to 30 days
  • Significant fines
  • Insurance surcharges
  • Mandatory classes at the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center

For second offenses, the IID is installed for a longer period. Anyone who refuses to install an IID will have their license suspended for 18 months. Prior to the recent changes in New Jersey’s DUI/DWI laws, suspensions were longer, but IIDs were not required.

Tips for Celebrating Safely

Individuals who drive while intoxicated risk serious penalties that can be life-changing. Besides the stigma of a DUI offense, there are steep legal and financial losses that can overshadow your future. Most importantly, there is the risk to your life and the lives of those around you. The following are tips for celebrating the holidays safely:  

  • Hand your keys over to a trusted friend or coworker
  • Pick a designated driver
  • Use a rideshare service
  • Take public transportation
  • Pace yourself and stop drinking at least 90 minutes before you plan to leave

With a bit of planning, your holiday season is certain to be festive, fun, and safe.

Haddonfield Criminal Lawyers at Aita Law, LLC Represent Clients with DUI/DWI Charges

While DUI/DWI penalties in New Jersey seem straightforward, with skilled legal counsel, some charges can be effectively contested. Because there is much at stake, it is important to enlist an experienced Haddonfield criminal lawyer at Aita Law, LLC to advocate for you. We will carefully evaluate every detail of your case to build a strong defense and work toward the best resolution possible. Call us at 856-287-7800 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation today. Located in Haddonfield, New Jersey, we represent clients throughout South Jersey, including Cherry Hill and Camden County.