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Drunk Driving Accidents

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that alcohol is involved in around 40 percent of all traffic deaths. The agency has evaluated methods to reduce drunk driving. Efforts to get the word out include mass media campaigns and school-based instructional programs. Unfortunately, despite the danger and warnings to the public, drunk driving is a common occurrence. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), two out of three Americans will be involved in a drunk driving accident in their lifetime.

Intoxicated drivers are seven times more likely to get into an accident than sober drivers. The difference is in how alcohol impairs driving skills. Intoxication slows reaction times, causes blurred vision, and impairs judgement. All states ban driving with a BAC of 0.08 percent and impose a minimum legal drinking age of 21 years.

DWI in New Jersey

New Jersey prohibits operating a vehicle while impaired by alcohol or drugs, either prescribed or otherwise. Anyone 21 years or older driving with a 0.08 percent BAC or more is automatically considered impaired. New Jersey requires drivers suspected of being intoxicated at either a sobriety checkpoint or when pulled over to submit to a breathalyzer test. Refusal can result in a fine and automatic license suspension.

Criminal Penalties

Penalties for DWI’s are steep and progressive. Jail time can range from 30 to 180 days depending on one’s conviction history. Aggravating factors, such as the driver refused to submit to a BAC test, BAC test results were greater than 0.10 percent, or having a minor in the vehicle at the time of arrest, will increase penalties. The following displays the type of offense and fines related to that offense:


  • First Offenses: Between $250 and $400 and license suspension up to three months
  • Second Offenses: Between $500 to $1,000 and license suspension up to two years
  • Third Offenses: Fines can accumulate over $1,000 and a license suspension up to 10 years

The law attempts to limit future incidents through efforts to alter driver behavior.  Restricted driving privileges may be imposed, such as driving only for commuting purposes or during daylight hours. This usually requires the driver to install and use an ignition interlock device (IID) on their vehicle. The IID requires the driver to submit and pass a BAC test. It prevents ignition if a threshold BAC is exceeded.

Serious Injuries

Drunk drivers may drive at unlawfully high speeds, steering erratically, and crashing in head-on collisions. These accidents can cause serious or fatal injuries to drivers or passengers in vehicles, or to pedestrians that are either hit by or injured trying to avoid a drunk driver. Common injuries include concussions and whiplash. More serious injuries often result in broken bones, spinal injuries, and even paralysis. Sadly, these accidents can also be fatal.

Although insurance policies provide basic coverage for property damage and medical costs, the amounts are limited. If you were involved in an accident with a drunk driver, then you are entitled to recover for damages in a civil case. Before agreeing to an insurance award, contact one of our experienced car accident lawyers for the next best steps.

Read our drugged driving blogs here.

South Jersey Car Accident Lawyers at the D’Amato Law Firm Advocate for Victims of Drunk Driving Accidents

If you were injured in a drunk driving accident, a South Jersey car accident lawyer at the D’Amato Law Firm can help. Located in Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout South Jersey, including Atlantic City, Linwood, Galloway Township, Cape May, Vineland, Millville, Bridgeton, Ocean City, and Woodbury. Call us today at 609-926-3300 or contact us online for a free initial consultation.