Drinking and Driving in New Jersey 2023: How Much Alcohol Is Legal?

Drink and drive laws in New Jersey

The permitted blood alcohol content (BAC) level in New Jersey is less than 0.08% (80 milliliters of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood). Attaining and exceeding the 0.08% BAC restriction can lead to a DWI or driving while intoxicated charge.

Typically, one to two standard alcoholic beverages are usually sufficient to meet or exceed the BAC limit of 0.08%. However, because BAC varies depending on weight and gender, this figure should only be used as a rough estimate.

Before we get into more detail about impaired driving in New Jersey, keep in mind that this post aims to make people knowledgeable about impaired driving. This website does not endorse or promote drunk in any way.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recorded 584 traffic deaths in New Jersey in 2020. Drivers with BAC levels higher than 0.08% accounted for 26% of this total.

Driving while impaired (DWI) or under the influence (DUI) is a crime in New Jersey. The state of New Jersey enforces DUI laws to combat impaired driving in the state.

It would be best to determine your blood alcohol level before getting behind the wheel. To ensure you are not over the legal BAC limit in New Jersey, you can use an alcohol breathalyzer.

It is best to avoid driving after drinking as much as possible. Take a cab, Uber, or a designated driver service instead.

We recommend visiting the official website of New Jersey’s Motor Vehicle Commission for the most up-to-date information on DWI driving rules and regulations.

Legal Alcohol Limit When Driving in New Jersey

Driving requires focus, judgment, and the ability to react quickly in an emergency. Alcohol impairs these abilities, putting you and others in danger.

Between 30 minutes and two hours, alcohol enters your bloodstream. Your respiratory rate may slow down, and your cognitive abilities may be delayed. Thus, driving while intoxicated is always risky not only for you but for other motorists, too.

If your BAC is 0.08% or higher, you will be charged with DWI or driving while impaired in New Jersey.

Although the state’s legal BAC limit is 0.08%, you should be aware that everyone’s body reacts differently to alcohol.

Some of the following factors may have an impact on your BAC level:

  • weight
  • gender
  • levels of stress and exhaustion
  • level of alcohol consumption
  • an empty stomach
  • medication intake

Some people may pass out after having a few bottles or glasses of alcoholic drinks. Some may appear normal at first glance, but they are already incapable of driving. Hence, it is essential to must first determine your BAC.

A BAC calculator and chart can help you figure out how much alcohol you can drink before driving. However, because everyone responds differently to alcohol, these tools may not be suitable for everyone.

The most reliable way to determine your BAC is to use a certified alcohol breathalyzer.

Punishments for Drinking and Driving in New Jersey

A person’s blood alcohol content influences the degree of alcohol impairment. Usually, an individual with a blood alcohol level of 0.010% to 0.029% appears normal. However, the effects of alcohol-related impairment become more apparent as BAC levels rise.

DUI laws differ from one state to the next. Check your blood alcohol level before getting behind the wheel to avoid penalties.

Driving while intoxicated may result in administrative and legal consequences. Here is a list of DWI penalties in New Jersey to guide you.

If an offender’s BAC is 0.08 % or higher but less than 0.10%, the penalties are as follows:

First DWI Offense in New Jersey

  • Jail Time: Up to 30 days in jail
  • Fines: $250 to $400 
  • Other Fees and Surcharges
    • $230 IDRC fee
    • $100 drunk driving fund
    • $100 to AERF
    • $1,000 per year (for three years) surcharge
    • $75 Neighborhood Services Fund
  • License Suspension: Three (3) months
  • Ignition Interlock: Ignition interlock device (IID) installation during suspension and one to three years after reinstatement
  • IDRC: 12 to 48 hours

Second DWI Offense in New Jersey

  • Jail Time: At least 48 consecutive hours of imprisonment up to 90 days
  • Fines: $500 to $1,000
  • Other Fees and Surcharges:
    • $280 IDRC fee
    • $100 drunk driving fund
    • $100 Alcohol Education and Rehabilitation Fund (AERF)
    • $1,000 per year (for three years) surcharge
    • $75 Neighborhood Services Fund
  • License Suspension: Up to two (2) years of license suspension 
  • Community Service: 30 days
  • Ignition Interlock: Installation of an IID during the license suspension period and for one (1) to three (3) years after license restoration
  • IDRC: 12-48 hours

Third DWI Offense in New Jersey

  • Jail Time: Up to 180 days of imprisonment  
  • Fines: $1,000
  • Other Fees and Surcharges:
    • $280 IDRC fee
    • $100 drunk driving fund
    • $100 AERF
    • $1,500 per year (for three years) surcharge
    • $75 Neighborhood Services Fund
  • License Suspension: Ten (10) years suspension of license
  • Community Service: 90 days (can shorten jail time)
  • Ignition Interlock: Ignition interlock device during license suspension and for the first three (3) years after restoration
  • IDRC: 12-48 hours

Intoxicated Driver Resource Center (IDRC)

All DWI offenders in New Jersey must participate in a drug and alcohol screening and assessment and complete IDRC’s treatment recommendations.

A minimum of six hours of treatment must be completed each day in the IDRC, but the duration of the program can add up to 90 days to the offender’s sentence.

When Can You Drink and Drive in New Jersey?

A person’s blood alcohol content can vary depending on gender and other factors. According to research, men and women have different BACs.

Men have significantly higher levels of alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) than women. ADH are enzymes in charge of alcohol metabolism. As a result, men process alcohol faster than women.

If you’re uncertain how much alcohol you can drink before driving in New Jersey, the information below may be helpful.

You should be aware that even though studies back up the information below, it may not be beneficial and applicable to everyone because alcohol affects people differently.

How Many Bottles of Beers Can You Drink and Drive in New Jersey?

Drink beer and drive in New Jersey

A lighter person may have a higher BAC, based on BAC charts.

After consuming a 12-ounce (350 ml) beer, a man who weighs 180 pounds (82 kilograms) can achieve a BAC level of 0.02%.

On the other hand, a woman of the same weight who drinks the same amount of beer may have a BAC of 0.03%.

If you intend to drive afterward, limiting your beer consumption to one to two bottles is best.

How Many Glasses of Wine Can You Consume and Drive in New Jersey?

A standard oz (142 ml) glass of wine contains 12% alcohol.

Similar to the preceding example, a 180-pound man can have a BAC of 0.02% after drinking one glass of wine. However, a woman with the same weight and alcohol consumption could have a BAC of up to 0.03%.

Drinking one to two glasses of wine is enough to meet New Jersey’s BAC limits.

How Much Whiskey or Vodka Can You Drink and Drive in New Jersey?

The alcohol content of distilled alcoholic beverages such as vodka and whiskey is 40%.

It is advisable to limit yourself to one to two shots of whiskey or vodka to ensure your BAC is within New Jersey’s legal limit.

Sticking to DWI Laws in New Jersey

There are several myths about how drinking affects driving. Everyone on the road should be mindful of the risks of DUI and take all precautions to avoid it.

When driving after drinking, everyone is at risk. You can become intoxicated and lose control of yourself and your vehicle.

Even if you’ve only had a few drinks, don’t assume your BAC and driving abilities are stable. If you’re tipsy, you should consider taking public transportation rather than driving.

If you plan to drive after drinking, keep your blood alcohol level below the legal limit. Your blood alcohol content can be precisely measured using a reliable alcohol breathalyzer.

Always check the official website of New Jersey to check the latest DUI laws.

About the author

Ashley Cresswell

Ashley Cresswell is a former phlebotomist with a passion for road safety. During her time as a phlebotomist, Ashley administered over 1000 blood alcohol tests to impaired drivers and was shocked to discover that many of them were simply uninformed about the legal limits for driving under the influence. As a result, Ashley conducted extensive research on scientific studies and local laws to bring drivers a comprehensive resource on drink and drive limits from around the world.