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Is a DUI a Felony in New Jersey?

DUI (Driving Under the Influence) is the illegal act of operating a motor vehicle after having consumed enough drugs or alcohol to interfere with your ability to drive safely. In New Jersey, the term DUI can also be used interchangeably with DWI, which stands for driving while intoxicated. After being arrested for a DUI or DWI in New Jersey, you may be wondering if you will face felony charges. Reach out to a Bergen County DWI attorney for more information and legal representation in your drunk driving case.

Will You Be Charged With a Felony for a DUI/DWI in NJ?

New Jersey is one of the few states that does not categorize a DUI as a criminal offense. It is neither a felony nor a misdemeanor, but actually is considered a traffic violation. However, there is potential for your DUI charge to be increased to a misdemeanor or felony depending on the circumstances of your offense.

If any of the following were true when you drove under the influence, you may receive a misdemeanor or felony charge instead of simply a traffic violation.

  • You were driving with a suspended license
  • There was a minor in the car
  • Your intoxicated driving resulted in an accident causing injury or death

What Are the Penalties for a DUI/DWI in New Jersey?

Because driving under the influence can cause so much irreparable damage, it is a crime taken seriously no matter what state you are in. The consequences of being convicted of a DUI can be quite severe. For a first-offense DUI where your blood alcohol content level was between 0.08 and 0.099 percent, you can receive penalties of:

  • Fines from $250 to $400
  • Up to 30 days in jail
  • Mandatory use of an IID (ignition interlock device) for 3 to 15 months
  • License suspension of up to 3 months
  • Mandatory time spent at an IDRC (Intoxicated Driver Resource Center)

Penalties will increase for a second, third, or even fourth DUI offense. Your consequences may also be increased depending on your blood alcohol content or any damage caused. Your fines will increase as well as the length of time of your license suspension and use of an IID. If you are a repeat offender, you will be required to serve a minimum sentence in jail. You can also be sentenced to mandatory completion and evaluation of a course at an IDRC instead of just attending for a short period of time.

Will I Have a Criminal Record After a DUI/DWI?

Unless your DUI is increased to a misdemeanor or felony, you will not walk away with a criminal record. However, because it is considered a traffic violation, it will be a fixture on your driving record. Avoiding a criminal record is beneficial so you can avoid your DUI appearing on background checks when trying to obtain employment or rent a house.

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