Tonya Sisler has a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of South Carolina in Journalism and has worked for 15+ years in management. She has also completed a proofreading certification and is currently a professional writer.

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Brad Larson has been in the insurance industry for more than a dozen years. He started out as a claims adjuster for a national carrier. He has since switched to the agency side of the business. Brad is licensed in all P&C lines.

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Reviewed by Brad Larsen
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020

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If a driver gets caught driving under the influence of alcohol in the state of New Jersey, there will be serious fines and penalties to face. These get progressively worse upon subsequent convictions, and will have a dramatic affect on a driver’s car insurance rates. It is important to understand what the penalties are so that drivers will think twice the next time they are about to get into their car while under the influence.

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Basic DUI Laws For The State Of New Jersey

In New Jersey, it is illegal for a driver to operate a vehicle when their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is .08 percent or higher. This .08 percent level is a standard measure of legally impaired drivers that is used across the United States. New Jersey applies lower BAC limits for anyone who drives a commercial vehicle, as well as minors under age 21, and minors can be arrested if there is any alcohol at all in their blood. In new DUI legislation for 2010, the state Supreme Court of New Jersey ruled that drivers who do not speak English should be given a translation of the consequences they will receive for refusing a chemical test for alcohol or drugs.

Penalties Associated With Driving under the Influence in New Jersey

As in other states, New Jersey has serious fines and penalties for people who drive while drunk. A first conviction results in immediate license suspension for three months. Typically, a person can request a special hearing with their Department of Motor Vehicles to request their license back, especially if they need it for work or medical purposes. Jail time can be assigned for up to 30 days, and fines will be from $250 to $400. The state will also assess other related fees, at a minimum of $525. Additionally, there is a car insurance surcharge, which will be $1,000 for each of the next three years. A convicted driver will also be required to attend the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center for two days, at six hours each day.

If a driver has a blood alcohol level of .10 percent or more, they will pay increased fines and be subjected to a longer license suspension, from seven months to one year. In New Jersey, the ignition interlock device used to be imposed only in certain cases. However, the latest DUI laws impose this requirement on anyone who has been convicted of a DUI and has received a restricted driving privilege. The interlock device, which requires a driver to blow into it in order to measure his blood alcohol content before starting his car, is required to be installed and used for the duration of a driver’s restricted license period.

Penalties become increasingly worse as the number of DUI convictions increases. If the individual has a third offense, they stand to lose their license for up to 10 years, with over $1,500 in fines, up to six months in jail, and a $1,500 automobile insurance surcharge for three years.

SR-22 Requirements In The State Of New Jersey

New Jersey is one of the few states that does not require SR-22 insurance. Instead, the state requires an annual insurance surcharge, for a period of three years. In other words, each year a driver will need to pay the surcharge to continue driving. For a first-time offender, the surcharge is $1,000 per year and goes up to $1,500 per year for a third-time offender. In addition, if the driver does not pay the surcharge, he will have his license suspended indefinitely, and the state Superior Court may file an action that includes wage garnishment, a lien against the driver’s property, or other another similar type of action.

Effects of a DUI on the Cost of Car Insurance

For drivers in New Jersey who have been convicted of a DUI, insurance costs will increase because they are now considered a high risk. Every state has minimum legal requirements for liability coverage, and although these limits may be too low, this will be the minimum insurance requirement for any convicted driver. Because they are considered a high risk, these drivers will be charged higher rates. In addition, they will need to pay the yearly insurance surcharge of $1,000-$1,500 on top of the cost of their increased auto insurance.

New Jersey Car Insurance Companies For High-Risk Drivers

Drivers convicted of a DUI can benefit from locating and working with a good DUI attorney. The potential of reducing or eliminating some of the penalties for a DUI conviction may help them present a better picture to insurance companies and therefore get a lower-cost policy. Even if drivers who have a DUI conviction on their record are considered higher risk by insurers, it is still important to shop around and obtain several quotes when looking for new insurance. Because each insurance company uses their own complex methodology to calculate the rates they offer consumers, quotes can vary substantially from one company to another. Additionally, some companies specialize in high risk drivers and can probably offer better premiums than standard insurance providers. The General Car Insurance Company, Progressive Insurance, and Esurance are three providers who specialize in high risk insurance policies.

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