DUI/DWI

"DUI" stands for "driving under the influence", and "DWI" stands for "driving while intoxicated". The acronyms are often used interchangeably, but they both refer to operating a motor vehicle while impaired by alcohol and/or drugs.

From a legal standpoint, there is no difference between a DUI and DWI. Both Pennsylvania and New Jersey have set penalties for driving while impaired; however, there are slight variations in those penalties depending upon the volume of alcohol by blood alcohol concentration and/or whether or not the impairment is due to controlled substances.

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Penalties for DUI/DWI in Pennsylvania

All DUIs in Pennsylvania are criminal offenses graded as misdemeanors. The DUI/DWI penalties vary depending upon whether the impairment was caused by alcohol or drugs or a combination of both. In all cases, there are fines, court costs, and a requirement that the accused undergo a substance abuse evaluation and follow all recommended treatment.

There will also be a requirement for the installation of Ignition Interlock on the accused's primary vehicle for a period of time which is dependent upon his or her blood alcohol concentration as well as whether it is a first, second, third, or subsequent offense.

Penalties for DUI/DWI in New Jersey

All DUIs in New Jersey are graded as a traffic offense, not as a crime. The DUI/DWI penalties vary depending upon the level of the offense. Every level has its own mandatory requirements:

1st offense DUI/DWI:

  • minimum fine of $250
  • license suspension between 3 and 12 months
  • 12 hours at the Intoxicated Driver Resource Program (IDRC)
  • installation of Ignition Interlock for no less than the period of license suspension, plus an additional 6 months if the blood alcohol concentration is 0.15 or greater or drugs were involved

2nd offense DUI/DWI:

  • minimum fine of $500
  • 2 year license suspension
  • 48 hours in IDRC
  • installation of Ignition Interlock for the period of license suspension plus 12 months
  • discretionary community service
  • possible jail time of up to 90 days

3rd offense DUI/DWI:

  • minimum fine of $1,000
  • 10 year license suspension
  • 48 hours of IDRC
  • installation of Ignition Interlock for the period of license suspension plus 3 years discretionary community service
  • 180 days in jail

What happens if I am arrested for DUI/DWI?

If you are arrested for a DUI, you are taken into the custody of a law enforcement officer who will bring you to a police station or other facility to subject you to a chemical analysis of your blood, breath, and/or urine to determine whether or not you have alcohol and/or drugs in your body.

If you are charged with a DUI offense, you will receive a summon from the arresting law enforcement agency, requiring you to appear in court to answer to the charges. Penalties depend upon the offense and vary between states.

Expungement of a DUI/DWI

In Pennsylvania, it is possible to have a DUI/DWI arrest or conviction expunged. For many first time DUI arrests, the offender often enters the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program.

This program allows first time DUI offenders to serve a probationary period, pay fines, and attend alcohol and highway safety courses as an alternative to a guilty plea. When a person completes the ARD requirements, the DUI charges can be expunged with a Court Order. Without ARD, a DUI conviction can only be expunged under very limited circumstances.

In New Jersey, DUI/DWI convictions cannot be expunged. Because expungements are limited to criminal offenses and DUI/DWI charges are considered a traffic offense and not a crime, the conviction cannot be erased from a driving record. However, the charge will only be recorded on the DMV record of the driver and not on his or her criminal record.

We Will Defend Your Rights

Nothing is guaranteed, which is why you need an experienced attorney to defend your rights. Our attorneys will meet with you to discuss your situation, the best course of action, and what you can expect throughout the duration of your case.

Please call our main office at 908-454-3200 to schedule a consultation, or you can reach us online with any questions you may have.