Reduced Legal Limit in NJ: Opportunity or Pitfall?

The initial reaction to the reduced BAC limit in the state to .08 was that this would pose additional pitfalls for those accused of a DWI in New Jersey. While from a simplistic perspective this may appear to be the case, the tiering for a first offender under the statute has provided an interesting opportunity for the defense. In this regard, the DWI statute, N.J.S.A. 39:4-50 provides for a three month suspension for a first offense where the BAC of the accused is between .08 and .099, and a seven to twelve month suspension where the first offender’s BAC is .10 or above. Under the previous version of the statute, the BAC was .10 and the minimum suspension for a first offense was six months. What we now have, therefore, is a statute which limits license suspension to 3 months where there are either no BAC readings or the readings are less than .10 but in excess of .08. Accordingly, when a knowledgeable defense lawyer can either get the BAC readings excluded or reduced below .10, for example, based on a depletion argument, software tolerance argument, cell phone interference, etc., he can eliminate four months of suspension (at a very minimum). Conversely, the tiering of the statute provides an out for prosecutors in these situations insofar as they can still obtain a DWI conviction, albeit for a reduced suspension period. We find that the new statute provides an opportunity to provide an enhanced frequency of reduction in license suspensions for first time offenders.

Contact Information