New Jersey DWI v. DUI: What Is the Difference?

  • Dan T. Matrafajlo
  • Sat Sep 2021
  • swimming pool accident,
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Driving while under the influence of alcohol is uniformly prohibited in all 50 states, but each state has slightly different laws and uses variations of terminology to describe drunk driving. The two terms commonly used in most states to describe drunk driving are “DWI” and “DUI.” DWI stands for “driving while intoxicated.” DUI stands for “driving under the influence.” 

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Both terms are used interchangeably to describe drunk driving in the state of New Jersey. In other words, since both terms have the same meaning, either can be used without error. Prosecution and sentencing for both DWI and DUI fall under the same statute – N.J.S.A. 39:4-50 (Driving While Intoxicated). Conviction of a DWI or DUI involves the same consequences.

Penalties & Requirements for a New Jersey DWI/DUI 

A drunk driving conviction can carry penalties if:

  • Driver is under the legal drinking age of 21 and has a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.01%, OR
  • Driver is over 21 years of age and has a BAC of 0.08% or higher

You do not have to submit a BAC test to be found guilty on DUI charges. The consumption of any controlled substance (such as alcohol, prescription drugs, over the counter medication or illegal drugs) while operating a vehicle can be grounds for a DWI arrest. The specific penalties for a DWI conviction vary depending on the different levels outlined under the law.

Important Steps to Take If You Are Pulled Over

If you are pulled over, you need to take certain steps to avoid the likelihood of a DWI arrest. Our experienced New Jersey DWI attorneys recommend the following:

  • Stay in your car. When you are pulled over, you should remain in your car and place your hands on the steering wheel until the officer instructs you otherwise.
  • Stay calm. In order to avoid making mistakes or unnecessarily raising any suspicion, you should stay as calm as possible.
  • Be polite and courteous. One sure way to increase your chances of a drunk driving arrest is to become hostile or antagonistic with the office who pulled you over. Instead, you should remain polite and courteous and answer the officer’s questions as best as you can.
  • Take a breathalyzer. New Jersey law mandates motorists to submit to a breath test. However, if the officer asks you to submit to the Alcotest improperly, the results will be deemed inadmissible.  

Despite taking these important steps, you may still be arrested for a DWI. If you are arrested for drunk driving, it is imperative that you immediately consult with and hire an experienced New Jersey DWI attorney to protect your legal rights.

Call a DWI Attorney in New Jersey

If you have been arrested or charged with a DWI offense in New Jersey, an experienced DWI attorney can help. The legal team at the Law Offices of Dan T. Matrafajlo has the experience and resources needed to defend you against DWI charges and seek the best possible results in your case. Contact us at 908-355-7100 to schedule a free case evaluation with our legal team today.

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