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Updated on December 30, 2010


NJ DUI law defines the act of driving under the influence within the state. You can find the specific statutes for DUIs in NJ under Title 39 (Motor Vehicle and Traffic Regulation) of the New Jersey States.

Driving Under the Influence

Driving under the influence is defined as operating a vehicle while under the influence of “…liquor, narcotic, hallucinogenic or habit-[forming] drugs."[1] NJ DUI law explicitly defines a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or higher as the legal limit; a person must have a BAC of .07% or less to operate a motor vehicle legally.[1]

Driving under the influence of any “habit-forming” drug -- which includes illicit narcotics, hallucinogens and methamphetamines -- is considered a DUI regardless of blood concentration. The mere presence of illicit drugs in the driver’s bloodstream is sufficient for a DUI.

Driving While Impaired

Driving while impaired is a charge similar to driving under the influence, but the standard for a DWI is considerably less than the standard for a DUI in New Jersey. Unlike a DUI, there is no specific blood alcohol concentration limit for a DWI -- even if the driver’s BAC is well under the limit, she could be charged with driving a vehicle in an unsafe manner if there is evidence that the driver’s ability to operate the vehicle is impaired. Thus, it quite possible under NJ DUI law to be charged with driving while impaired even with a blood alcohol concentration of less than .08%.[2]

Drinking While Driving

Drinking alcohol while operating a vehicle is expressly prohibited under NJ law, and is grounds for being arrested on suspicion of DUI. A driver operating a vehicle with an unsealed container of alcohol -- defined as cup, glass or any container on which the original seal is broken -- is presumed to be drinking while driving. Passengers in limousines, charter buses or similar “party”-style vehicles, however, are exempt.[7]

Refusing a Breath Test

By operating a motor vehicle within the state of New Jersey, the driver gives his consent to a breath test to determine his blood alcohol concentration. After being stopped and/or physically arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence, a driver who refuses to submit to a breath test is then subject to suspension of his license for a minimum of seven months and a maximum of one year. If the driver has a previous DUI conviction on his record, the suspension then increases to two years; likewise, a driver with two previous DUI convictions is subject to a license suspension of ten years.[4][5]

While refusing to submit to a breath test does not constitute admission of committing a DUI, the adjudicating municipal court may review the arresting officer’s reason(s) for suspecting the driver was committing a DUI and may charge the offending driver with a DUI if there if the officer demonstrates reasonable suspicion that a DUI had been committed.[4][5]

Blood Alcohol Concentration

In New Jersey, a person with a BAC of 0.08% or greater who operates a motor vehicle or a boat is considered to be driving under the influence (DUI). [1] Drivers who operate a vehicle with a BAC of 0.08% are guilty of and may be charged with a DUI, even if the driver exhibits no signs of actually being impaired.[3]

Driving With Alcoholic Beverages

NJ law expressly prohibits drivers from operating a vehicle with open or partially consumed alcoholic beverages inside. Driving with an open or partly-consumer alcoholic drink, along with apparent signs of intoxication, is sufficient reason for law enforcement to arrest the driver for a DUI.[6]

New Jersey law requires drivers to store all unopened alcoholic beverages in the trunk of the vehicle while in motion. If the vehicle lacks a usable trunk, the driver may instead store the alcohol behind the farthest seats of the vehicle and as far as possible from the driver’s seat. Under no circumstances may a driver operate a vehicle with any open or partially-consumer alcoholic drinks inside, even if they are in the hands of or belong to other passengers in the vehicle.[6]


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