New Jersey DWI Law

DWI law in New Jersey is wide-ranging and covers a multitude of situations. There are a variety of reasons you can be charged with a DWI beyond operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated. For example, if you’re pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving and refuse to submit to a breathalyzer test, the state of New Jersey can penalize you with worse conditions than an actual DWI. Even allowing someone else who is intoxicated to drive can result in you receiving a DWI. You can also be charged based on the open-container law that makes it illegal to have opened alcoholic drinks within the driver and passenger areas of your car, whether you were drinking or not. New Jersey has a wide jurisdiction regarding DWI law that can leave you with face fines, license suspensions, and even jail time.

Criminal or Traffic Offense?

What many people aren’t aware of, however, is that the state of New Jersey doesn’t recognize a DWI as a criminal offense. While other states treat this violation criminally, a DWI in New Jersey is considered quasi-criminal in the form of a traffic offense. A DWI will only appear on your Motor Vehicle Commission record. This doesn’t mean a DWI shouldn’t be taken seriously, however, because it will still result in severe penalties.

Plea Bargaining

It is also important to note that it is illegal to negotiate a plea bargain for a DWI case in the state of New Jersey. This means it is crucial to find proper representation if you hope to have your charges dismissed.


A DUI or DWI charge in New Jersey is treated like a traffic violation, with the exception that you will be required to appear in court. If you have retained a defense lawyer, the lawyer may be able to get an extension on the court date in order to gather evidence. It is also at this time that pre-trial motions may be made. Sometimes these pre-trial motions can suppress evidence against you and can get the charged dismissed.

If the case goes to trial, opening statements will be given by both sides. After the statements have been given, both sides will cross-examine and question the witnesses. Some example witnesses are the arresting officer, the lab technician who tested the blood or urine (if applicable), physicians, field sobriety testing experts, and possibly the driver. Once all the witnesses have been heard from, both sides will give closing arguments. Unlike some other trials, you will not be entitled to a jury trial. DWI and DUI charges are heard before a judge who will determine if you will be found not guilty or guilty.


In order for the state to actually convict you of a DWI, they must accomplish the following prerequisites by a preponderance of evidence:

  • The officer had probable cause to pull you over
  • The officer had a reasonable cause to arrest you for a DWI

Once the prerequisites have been met, the state must then prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you operated or intended to operate a motor vehicle while intoxicated and/or with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08%.

Fight your Charges

DWI charges aren’t impossible to beat, but due to the complicated nature of DWI, doing so without an experienced attorney would be extremely difficult. Here at the Law Offices of Jef Henninger, Esq., we know the ins and outs of DWI law and know what defenses to use to beat your charges.

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