New Jersey DUI Insurance Laws

DUIs in NJ carry escalating penalties which include fines and fees up to $1,500 per offense, up to 180 days in jail, and SR-22 coverage which must be maintained for three years.

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder & CFP® Joel Ohman

UPDATED: May 4, 2022

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Here's what you need to know...

  • New Jersey has strict guidelines and consequences for DUI convictions
  • Penalties for a DUI vary depending on a first, second, or third conviction
  • Finding insurance with a DUI on your driving record may be difficult but not impossible

In New Jersey, driving under the influence (DUI), is also known as driving while intoxicated (DWI).

A New Jersey driver is considered impaired if their blood alcohol level is above .08%. For minors under age 21, the limit is .01%, and for drivers of commercial vehicles, the limit is .04%.

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What is a DUI?

DUI describes the act of driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. Although blood, breath, and urine tests have been used to determine the blood alcohol concentration (BAC), their validity has been criticized.

Other tests to determine intoxication include observing erratic driving behavior and having the driver walk in a straight line or stand on one leg for 30 seconds.

All drivers in New Jersey implicitly consent to these tests by driving on the roadways.

If a driver refuses these tests, the penalty for the first refusal is the suspension of his driver’s license for one year and a fine of $250 to $500.

A second refusal gives a penalty of license suspension for two years, and a third refusal carries a license suspension of 10 years.

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Laws Concerning DUI

If an adult drives under the influence with a passenger younger than 17-years-old in the car with them, he is also guilty of a disorderly persons (DP) offense.

In addition, that adult also forfeits the right to operate a motor vehicle for a maximum of six months and must perform community service for up to five days.

Some penalties carry the requirement of having an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) installed on their vehicle that must remain for the duration of the restricted driving period.

Penalties for a DUI

First offenses carry the following penalties:

  • Up to 30 days in jail
  • Fine of $250 to $500
  • License suspension of three months
  • IID installation
  • Insurance surcharge of $1,000 a year for three years
  • Attendance at the Intoxicated Drivers Resource of two days, six hours per day

Second offenses carry the following penalties:

  • Fine of $500 to $1,000
  • License suspension of two years
  • IID installation
  • Insurance surcharge of $1,000 per year for three years
  • Community service for 30 days

Third offenses carry the following penalties:

  • Up to 180 days in jail
  • Fine of $1,000
  • License suspension of ten years
  • IID installation
  • Insurance surcharge of $1,500 per year for three years

All DUI convictions also carry the additional fees of:

  • $100 surcharge for the drunk driving enforcement fund
  • $100 motor vehicle restoration fee
  • $100 violent crimes compensation fee
  • $100 intoxicated driver program fee
  • $100 state and municipality fee

New Jersey DUI Statistics

Between 2007 and 2009, there were 1,897 fatalities from car accidents in New Jersey. Of that number, 33.5 percent were alcohol-related, although not all fatalities were operating a motor vehicle at the time of the accident.

In 2009, 53 percent of the fatalities in car crashes had at least one driver with a BAC of .15 percent or higher.

For repeat offenders, with at least one driver having a BAC of .08 – .14, 33 percent resulted in fatalities. For repeat offenders, alcohol-related accidents resulted in a fatality rate of 67 percent.

There were 27,345 arrests for DUI in New Jersey in 2009 according to the 2009 FBI Uniform Crime Report from the US Department of Transportation.

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New Jersey DUI Consequences

Fines, jail time, attorney fees, increased insurance, being dropped by the insurance carrier, court costs, lost time from work, community service, restitution fines, other criminal charges are all possible consequences of a DUI.

Some car insurance policies will automatically drop anyone convicted of a drunk driving offense.

Other providers will raise the driver’s rates exponentially. The driver may be offered SR-22 insurance, which is more expensive than regular insurance.

SR-22 car insurance coverage must be maintained for three years. If a lapse occurs, the penalty is total revocation of the license until coverage is resumed.

Once a driver has a DUI conviction on their record, it is nearly impossible to get insurance in New Jersey when you are ready to reapply for a license.

In addition to problems with insurance, you may have other fines to pay. The amount you pay for penalty fines depends on your previous driving record.

If you cause damage to another person or property, you may have to pay restitution fines greater than $10,000.

New Jersey DUI Insurance Costs

Drunk driving causes many problems, not just to the victims, but to the driver. In New Jersey, a Zero Tolerance policy has made it very difficult to recover from a drunk driving conviction.

This policy has been created to try to decrease the number of accidents and fatalities caused by drunk driving.

If you’re going out to drink, make sure you have a designated driver with you. It’s a lot more convenient, not to mention cheaper, than risking a drunk driving arrest or accident.

When comparing insurance prices, make sure that you understand what coverage you may already have, and that you understand what different policies offer.

Also, make sure that you have certain information available so that you can find car insurance quotes specifically for your circumstances and situation.

Do some research to make sure you know all about the discounts for which you may be eligible.

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