BAC Below the Legal Limit

Driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) is a serious offense with significant consequences in New Jersey. While most understand the legal limit for BAC (blood alcohol content/blood alcohol concentration) to be 0.08%, many are unaware that a conviction can occur even without a BAC reading. Navigating the complexities of these charges requires the expertise of a seasoned New Jersey DUI attorney.

If you or a loved one has been arrested for drunk driving under the legal BAC levels, contact the Law Offices of Christopher L. Baxter at (856) 235-9881 for a free consultation.

Paths to Conviction

New Jersey law provides two avenues for the prosecution to prove DUI:

Per Se Violation

This is when your BAC exceeds 0.08% based on a breath test. In these cases, challenging the operation and maintenance of the testing machine is crucial. Any calibration, operation, or procedure deficiency can cast doubt on the results, potentially excluding them from evidence.

Officer observations

Even without a BAC reading, the prosecution can rely on the police officer’s observations of your driving behavior, including erratic driving, weaving on the road, driving slowly, using headlights improperly, and stopping where there are no stop signs.

After getting pulled over, a law enforcement officer will determine if you are drunk driving by looking for indicators of impairment. These indicators include slurred speech, breath odor, inability to communicate, and watery eyes. New Jersey police officers also conduct standardized field sobriety tests (FSTs). The SFSTs include

  • One Leg Stand Test – to check your balance.
  • Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus – tests the jerking of your eyes when tracking objects.
  • Walk and Turn Test – involves checking your balance and ability to follow simple instructions.

New Jersey DWI penalties

New Jersey DWI penalties can range from financial penalties and license suspension to the installation of an ignition interlock device, IDCR classes, and even jail time.

Penalties for Underage Drivers in New Jersey

New Jersey has a zero-tolerance policy for underage drinking (under 21 years). For these underage drivers, any detectable amount of alcohol in the system can lead to a DUI charge. DWI charges can also be a result of impairment from substance abuse like Over-The-Counter drugs, prescription medication, and illegal drugs.

Juveniles face a $500 fine for a first offense, a $750 fine for a second offense, and possible detention. Third or subsequent offenses carry up to $1000 in fines and possible detention. They will also face a 30-90-day license suspension and 15-30 days of community service.

NJ Penalties for BAC levels of 0.08% and higher

The penalties for a 0.08-0.09% BAC are a $250-$400 fine, $350 additional court assessments, 12-48 hours of IDRC classes, indefinite suspension until the installation of the ignition interlock device for 90 days, and $3000 in NJ MVS surcharges over three years. A person’s auto insurance will also increase for three years.

First offense

According to New Jersey law, if your BAC level is between 0.08% and 0.9%, the potential penalties include:

  • A fine between $250 and $400.

  • A maximum of 30 days in jail

  • Suspension of driver’s license until installing an ignition interlock device (IID) lasting for three months.

  • At least six hours a day in an Intoxicated Drivers Resource Center for two consecutive days.

  • A NJMVS surcharge of $1,000 every year for three years.

For BAC levels between 0.1% and 0.15%:

  • A fine between $300 and $500.

  • Jail time for a maximum of 30 days.

  • Suspension of driver’s license until the installation of an ignition interlock device (IID) lasting between 7 and 12 months.

  • At least six hours a day in an Intoxicated Drivers Resource Center for two consecutive days.

  • A NJMVS surcharge of $1,000 every year for three years.

If your BAC level is 0.15% or higher, you must install an IID in your main vehicle during the license suspension period (four to six months) and between nine and fifteen months after your license is restored.

2nd offense

  • A fine of between $500 and $1,000

  • A minimum jail term of 2 days but not more than 90 days

  • License suspension of 1-2 years

  • Pay $200 as the Motor Vehicle Commission Restoration Fee

  • A NJMVS surcharge every year for three years

  • Installation of an IID during license suspension and 2-4 years after the restoration of your license

3rd offense

  • A $1,000 fine

  • A minimum jail term of 180 days. However, the court can reduce it by a maximum of 90 days, depending on the time spent in an inpatient rehabilitation program.

  • License suspension for 8 years

  • Mandatory community service for thirty days

  • Completing an IDRC program (48 hours)

  • Installation of an IID during the license suspension period and between 2 and 4 years after restoration of the license

  • A NJMVS surcharge of $1000 every year for three years

Penalties for DUI charges with BAC under 0.08%

You can be charged with DUI even if your blood alcohol concentration is under the legal limit because New Jersey DUI laws aren’t solely based on BAC levels. The primary concern is to prevent impaired driving, which can happen at any BAC level.

If a person’s BAC is below 0.08%, the prosecutor can still pursue a DWI case based on roadside observations that indicate impairment. If the State wins with roadside observations, even if the BAC is below 0.08% (or even if there is no reading at all), the penalties are exactly the same as set forth for offenders with BAC readings of 0.08-0.09% above.

Professional DWI Defense

Field Sobriety Tests: Misconceptions and traps

Many misconceptions surround field sobriety tests, and they’re often exploited by the prosecution to their advantage. These tests are not foolproof and can be influenced by various factors, including fatigue, weather, medical conditions, and anxiety. Our skilled and experienced attorneys can expose these vulnerabilities and highlight potential inaccuracies in the officer’s observations.

Build a strong DUI defense

Facing a DUI charge can be overwhelming. Our experienced New Jersey DUI attorneys can:

  • Analyze the evidence: Scrutinizing police reports, breathalyzer procedures, and field sobriety test administration for flaws or inconsistencies.
  • Challenge the legality of the traffic stop: Ensuring the officer had a valid reason to pull you over.
  • Investigate alternative explanations: Exploring potential medical or physiological reasons for your behavior that could cast doubt on the intoxication claim.
  • Negotiate with the prosecution: Seeking a reduced charge or alternative penalties, such as community service or driver’s education programs.
  • Represent you in court: Present a compelling defense and fight for your rights at every stage of the legal process.

Contact Law Offices of Christopher L. Baxter

Taking immediate action is critical after a DUI arrest. Contacting our team of New Jersey DUI lawyers allows for a prompt and comprehensive evaluation of your case. During your free consultation, you can discuss the details of your arrest, explore your options, and understand the potential defenses available.

Contact our defense lawyers at 856-235-9881 to schedule your free initial consultation and build your defense.

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As a 2015 Clients’ Choice award recipient with a *10.0 Superb Avvo Rating, Attorney Baxter has demonstrated his ability to secure favorable outcomes on behalf of our clients, no matter how complex the situation may be. Although you may be worried about what the future holds, you do not have to work through this time on your own. We stand ready to relentlessly defend you from your initial consultation until the resolution of your case.

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