Nobody likes to think that he will be the cause of a motor vehicle accident involving personal injury or death. Unfortunately, many of these same people will enjoy a few alcoholic beverages while out with friends and then get in their car and drive home. Driving under the influence is nothing to be taken lightly, and there is absolutely no reason for it to happen due to the availability of alternate transportation. Regardless, it is still eerily common. So, what do you need to know about DUI and motor vehicle accidents? The main things I am going to explain are what constitutes a DUI, the penalties for the offense in New Jersey and alternatives you should be taking advantage of if you have been drinking.
New Jersey law considers any person operating a motor vehicle with a BAC of 0.08 or higher guilty of driving under the influence. Although 0.08 is the “official” minimum, you can still receive a DUI below that level if you are noticeably impaired. Therefore, it is best to not consume any alcohol within a short time period of driving. If you must, know your limits and do not drive if you feel the effects in the slightest. You can also be cited for a DUI if you are impaired by a narcotic, hallucinogenic or habit producing drug, so also avoid using these substances before driving.
The penalties for DUI in New Jersey depend on whether or not this is your first offense and if you are of legal age. If this is your first offense, you face 1) a fine of $250-400, 2) imprisonment for up to 30 days, 3) 3-month license suspension for BAC of 0.09 or under; otherwise 7-12-month suspension, 4) a minimum of 6 hours a day for 2 consecutive days in an Intoxicated Driver Resource Center and 5) an automobile insurance surcharge of $1,000 a year for 3 years. These penalties gradually increase with each offense, and if there is a third offense you risk losing your license for 10 years. Additionally, if you are under 21, there is a zero-tolerance policy for drinking and driving, and all you have to do is blow a 0.01 or above to be penalized. The penalties for a DUI under 21 are 1) loss or postponement of driving privileges for 30 days, 2) 15 to 30 days of community service and 3) participation in an alcohol and traffic safety education program.
The consequences of DUI for both yourself and other people are traumatic, and therefore you should avoid taking any risk whatsoever. If you have been drinking any amount of alcohol within the last couple of hours or you know you are going to, it is not worth the risk of getting behind the wheel. Get a ride with a trusted family member or friend to the location who will not be drinking, and if there is no one available to take you use a ridesharing service or walk. This may seem like a major inconvenience at first, but you will enjoy yourself more at the event knowing you do not have to drive home and also potentially save lives in the process. If you have driven to the drinking establishment and had more than you intended, arrange to leave your car at the location or have somebody come pick it up and drive it to your home. Either way, make sure you do not drive yourself, even if it is “only a few minutes” or you “know the roads around here.” That can be a deadly mistake.
Hopefully reading this article will help you make smart decisions about driving and alcohol, if you have not already been doing so. Enjoying a few drinks with friends and family is a fun time for everybody, but your good time should not result in someone’s injury or death. So please be responsible with your decisions.
Written By: Anthony Luparello