In New Jersey, drivers typically face charges for driving while intoxicated (DWI) if they either exhibit clearly intoxicated behavior while behind the wheel, or if their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels hit at least .08%.
But drivers can also get charged for driving while under the influence of a narcotic, hallucinogenic or habit-producing drug. Do the penalties for a drugged driving DWI differ from an alcohol DWI charge?
Enhanced penalties for first offense
According to New Jersey law, if a driver is under the influence of a narcotic, hallucinogenic or habit-producing drug while operating a motor vehicle, an officer can charge them with DWI. But on conviction, the driver will face the same enhanced penalties levied on those whose BAC levels exceed .10% for a first offense.
These penalties include detainment for up to 48 hours as part of an intoxicated driver resource center program, as much as $500 in fines, and up to 30 days of jail time. By comparison, a driver convicted of DWI for having a BAC between .08% and .10% only faces up to $400 in fines – the detainment and imprisonment maximum periods are the same.
In addition to the above penalties, officials can order a person convicted of drug DWI to forfeit their right to operate a motor vehicle for not less than seven months, up to a maximum of an entire year.
Passengers allowing drugged drivers to operate also face charges
State law also prohibits vehicle owners from recklessly allowing drugged people to operate their vehicles. Those who permit a drugged individual to drive their vehicle will face the same charges as a drug DWI and also face the same penalties on conviction.
Yes, drug DWI charges differ from alcohol DWIs – in the sense that they start with enhanced penalties. Anyone who faces a drug DWI should keep in mind these differences as they tackle their defense in court.