Major New Jersey DWI Law Change Proposal Goes to Governor’s Desk

Major New Jersey DWI Law Change Proposal Goes to Governor’s Desk

A proposed change in the New Jersey DWI law that would allow many first time offenders to avoid a lengthy license suspension, provided that the state is unable to convince the judge of aggravating circumstances, has hit Gov. Christie’s desk and is now awaiting his signature. The Governor has 45 days from February 5th to either sign or veto the bill.

Concerning the offense of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (R.S.39:50-4), the bill revises the relevant penalty provisions as follows:

For a first offense, if that offense involved a person’s blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or higher but less than 0.10%, or otherwise operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor, the court would order a 10-day license suspension, during which the person would have to install an ignition interlock device in one motor vehicle owned, leased, or principally operated by the person, whichever the person most often operates, for three months, unless the court was clearly convinced, based on a series of aggravating factors outweighing mitigating ones as set forth in the bill, to instead order a license suspension of three months (the three month suspension would also apply instead of device installation if the person did not own or lease a motor vehicle and there was no motor vehicle the person principally operated). 

The aggravating and mitigating factors for consideration by the court to order a license suspension instead of device installation would include, but not be limited to: the nature and circumstances of the person’s conduct, including whether such conduct posed a high risk of danger to the public; the person’s driving record; whether the character and attitude of the person indicate that the person would be likely or unlikely to commit another violation; and the need for personal or general deterrence.

This is big news for both NJ drivers accused of DWI and for NJ DWI attorneys. If signed, drivers accused of DWI in NJ may be able to avoid a lengthy license suspension, thus allowing them to keep their jobs and maintain their normal routines. Most importantly, the law will still keep convicted drunk drivers from driving after consuming alcohol, at least during the imposition of the court’s order. This provision is rightly aimed at protecting the public. As for NJ DWI lawyers, we must prepare to argue mitigating factors for the court to consider in order for this provision to be applied to our client’s particular case.


Regardless of your circumstances, there are many things that can be done on your behalf if you have been charged with DUI or DWI in New Jersey. Robert F. Black, Jr. is eager to provide you with comprehensive and supportive representation and will explore all options to protect your rights – including the appropriateness of your motor vehicle stop, the accuracy and reporting of the  field sobriety testing information, and the adherence to the Alcotest procedures and protocols.

We understand that people make mistakes. We believe, however, that a DUI or DWI charge does not define you. Choosing the best New Jersey DUI attorney may afford you an otherwise elusive second chance.