When does drunk driving become a felony in New Jersey?

On Behalf of | Mar 27, 2024 | DUI/DWI Defense |

Driving under the influence is a serious offense in New Jersey. In the Garden State, the threshold for a DUI to become a felony hinges on various factors.

Knowing these factors helps people navigate the legal landscape and understand the potential consequences of their actions.

Prior offenses

A key determinant regarding DUI felonies is the individual’s history of prior offenses. If a person has multiple DUI convictions, subsequent offenses are more likely to result in felony charges. The state takes a stringent stance on repeat offenders, viewing them as a greater risk to public safety.

Blood alcohol concentration

Another key factor in determining whether a DUI becomes a felony is the driver’s blood alcohol concentration at the time of arrest. Having a BAC of 0.08% or higher constitutes driving under the influence. However, if the BAC surpasses a certain threshold, typically 0.15% or more, the offense may be a felony, especially if there are previous convictions.

Aggravating circumstances

Certain aggravating factors can also escalate a DUI to a felony. These may include causing property damage, bodily harm or death while driving under the influence. Driving with a suspended or revoked license due to a prior DUI offense can lead to felony charges.

Potential consequences

When a DUI becomes a felony, the consequences become more severe. Felony convictions carry heavier fines, longer license suspensions and possible imprisonment. A felony conviction can also have lasting effects on one’s personal and professional life, including difficulty finding employment and housing.

Responsibility.org reports that there were 21,112 drunk driving arrests in New Jersey in 2019. Knowing the potential repercussions of impaired driving helps people make informed decisions and avoid endangering themselves and others on the roadways.


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