Alcohol/Drug Related Laws and Penalties
Driving While Intoxicated
A. Operating Motor Vehicles while Under the Influence of Intoxicants (N.J.S.A. 17:29A-35b(2) and 39:4-50)
A person is said to be legally intoxicated in New Jersey if their blood alcohol concentration is at or above 0.10%. A person may also be arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI) if the individual is determined to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs, regardless of the blood alcohol concentration level. A person can also be charged with or convicted of DWI for "allowing" an intoxicated driver to operate their vehicle.
All persons convicted of DWI must pay an insurance surcharge of at least $1,000 per year for three years.
- For a first offense, there are additional fines and charges of at least $470 (bringing the total minimum charges for a first offense to $3,470); loss of license for 6-12 months; and a requirement to spend 12-48 hours in an Intoxicated Driver Resource Center or jail. There is also a possible potential 30-day jail term.
- For a second offense, there are additional fines and charges of at least $720; loss of license for 2 years; a requirement to perform 30 days of community service and to spend 48 hours in an Intoxicated Driver Resource Center or jail. There is also a possible 90-day jail term.
- For a third offense, there are additional fines and charges of at least $1,220; loss of license for 10 years; and a 180-day jail term. The insurance surcharge for a third-time offender is at least $1,500 per year for three years.
These fines and charges do not include court and legal fees.
B. Driving While License is Suspended due to DWI (N.J.S.A. 39:3-40)
If a person is found driving while their license is suspended due to a conviction of Driving While Intoxicated, they will lose their license for an additional 1-2 years, be fined $500, and face a possible 90-day jail term. There is a minimum 10 day sentence. If they are involved in an accident that results in an injury, they face a mandatory 45-day jail sentence.
C. Refusal to Take the Breathalyzer Test (N.J.S.A. 39:4-50.4a)
Refusal to take the breathalyzer test where there is probable cause for arrest for DWI will result in a 6-month loss of license, a fine of $250-$500, and an obligation to satisfy the requirements of an alcohol education or rehabilitation program.
A person can also be convicted of DWI without the results of a breathalyzer test. In that case, they will suffer all the additional fines and penalties specified for the DWI conviction.
D. Underage Driver who has Consumed Alcohol (N.J.S.A. 39:4-50.14)
A new law passed in 1992 which applies to almost any alcohol consumption by underage drivers (with blood alcohol above 0.01%, but below 0.10%) and mandates suspension of driving privileges for 30-90 days with 15-30 days community service. A person, in addition to being charged with underage consumption of alcohol, can also be charged with DWI and face the additional fines and penalties specified for a DWI conviction.
Open Alcoholic Beverage Containers
A. In the Car (N.J.S.A. 39:4-51a)
Anyone found to have an open or unsealed container holding alcoholic beverages in a car faces a fine of $200 for a first offense and a fine of $250 or 10 days of community service for a second offense.
B. On the Streets
Penalties for possessing and consuming alcoholic beverages in public vary from town to town. In New Brunswick (Ordinance. 6-14.1), the penalty for such an action is a fine of $100-$1000 and/or a 90-day jail term. In Piscataway (Ordinance. 5-13.3), the penalty is a fine and up to $100 and/or a jail term of up to 15 days. The penalty in Newark (Ordinance. 17:2-7) and in Camden (Ordinance. MC-1017) is a fine of up to $500 and/or a jail term of up to 90 days.
Alcohol and the Underaged
The purchase and consumption of alcohol is a right extended by the state of New Jersey. The legal age of purchase and consumption of alcoholic beverages in the state of New Jersey is twenty-one.
A. Possession or Consumption of Alcohol in Public places by the Underaged (N.J.S.A. 2C:33-15)
Any person under the legal age to purchase alcoholic beverages who knowingly possesses without legal authority or who knowingly consumes any alcoholic beverage in any school, public conveyance, public place, place of public assembly, or motor vehicle is guilty of a disorderly persons offense and shall be fined not less than $500. If the offense occurs in a motor vehicle, it will also result in a six month loss of license.
B. Purchase of Alcohol by/for the Underaged (N.J.S.A. 33:1-81)
An underage person who purchases or attempts to purchase alcohol, or lies about their age, or a person of legal age who purchases alcohol for an underaged person faces a conviction of a disorderly person's offense, which incurs a fine of not less than $500 and loss of license for 6 months to one year. In addition, underage persons may be required to participate in a state-sponsored alcohol education program.
C. Serving an Alcoholic Beverage to a Minor (N.J.S.A. 2C:33-17)
Anyone who purposely or knowingly offers or serves or makes available an alcoholic beverage to a person under the legal age for consuming alcoholic beverages or entices that person to drink alcohol or makes real property owned, leased or managed by him available for the consumption of alcohol by underaged persons is committing a disorderly persons offense and is subject to a fine of up to $1000 if convicted.
D. Transfer of ID (N.J.S.A. 33:1-81.7)
Someone who is underage and uses another person's ID card to obtain alcohol, or someone of legal age gives their ID card to an underage person so that they can obtain alcohol, faces a fine of up to $300 or up to 60 days in jail.
E. False ID (N.J.S.A. 2C:21-2.1)
A person who knowingly sells, offers, or otherwise transfers or intends to transfer a document that simulates a driver's license or other document issued by a government agency and that could be used to verify a person's identity or age is guilty of a crime of the third degree. There is a fine of $1000 if convicted with possible jail term of 4 years (or sometimes more).
Bartender Liability (N.J.A.C.13:2-23.1)
If a bartender either serves a minor or a visibly intoxicated customer, the bartender can be held liable for that customer's injuries as well as injuries to a third party due to the negligent driving on the part of the customer.
Host/hostess liability (N.J.S.A2A: 15-5.6)
A host or hostess who provides alcoholic beverages to a visibly intoxicated guest can be held liable for injuries inflicted on a third party if that guest is involved in a motor vehicle accident.
Some New Offenses and Stiffer Penalties that Can Affect the College Student
- Designer Drugs - These drugs, for example, Ecstasy and the look-alike, are now included in the list of controlled dangerous substances.
- Criminal Homicide - If a person dies as a result of a drug given by another, the giver of the drug can be charged with criminal homicide.
- Drug-Free School Zones - There is a special provision in this Act if you are on any school property (elementary or secondary) or within 1000 ft. of any school property or school bus or on any school bus and are convicted of distributing, dispensing or possessing with intent to distribute a controlled dangerous substance, you will be sentenced to a term of imprisonment and a fine up to $100,000 depending upon amount of the substance you possess. During part of this term of imprisonment you would not be eligible for parole.
- There is a penalty of mandatory loss or postponement of driving privileges of at least 6 months upon conviction of many drug offenses, for example, possession of drug paraphernalia such as pipes, sifters, spoons.
- Especially harsh penalties are established to impose stern punishment for persons involved in illegal manufacture of drugs.
- If a person distributes a drug to a minor (under the age of 17) or a pregnant female, there is now a stiffer penalty.
- The Act provides for forfeiture provisions where the state may confiscate a motor vehicle in which any controlled dangerous substance is found, no matter how small the amount.
Law enforcement officers are instructed to enforce all offenses strictly.
Potential penalties for a conviction
- Simple possession, use or being under the influence of:
- Marijuana: 0-18 months in jail and a fine of $500 to $15,000 and mandatory loss of driver's license for 6 months to 2 years.
- Cocaine/Crack: 3-5 years in jail and a fine of $1,000 to $25,000, and mandatory loss of driver's license for 6 months to 2 years.
- Speed: same as cocaine.
- Psilocybin and LSD: same as cocaine.
- Use or possession with intent to distribute:
- Marijuana: 0-10 years in jail and a fine of $750 to $100,000, and mandatory loss of driver's license for 6 months to 2 years.
- Cocaine: 3-20 years in jail (with a 3-5 year* mandatory sentence with no parole if amount exceeds 5 oz.) and a fine of $1,000 to $300,000,and mandatory loss of driver's license for 6 months to 2 years.
- Speed: 3-10 years in jail and a fine of $1,000 to $100,000, and mandatory loss of driver's license for 6 months to 2 years.
- Psilocybin and LSD: 3-5 years in jail and a fine of $2,000 to $300,000, and mandatory loss of driver's license for 6 months to 2 years.
- In addition to the foregoing fines, every defendant convicted of any drug offense or who goes into a drug diversionary program must pay a mandatory penalty ranging from $500 to $3,000 and a mandatory $50 laboratory charge
- Use or possession of drug paraphernalia: Up to 6 months in jail, mandatory fine of $500 to $1,000 and a mandatory loss of driving privileges for 6 months to 2 years.
- The Act provides that any person, 18 years or older, who uses, solicits or directs a juvenile (17 years or younger) to manufacture or distribute drugs is guilty of a second degree crime and is subject to imprisonment for 5-10 years and a fine of up to $300,000.
- It is unlawful for any person to deliver drug paraphernalia to a person under 18 years of age.