New Jersey was among neither the strictest nor the most lenient states with regard to DUI penalties, according to a study by WalletHub. Incidents of driving while intoxicated or while under the influence caused approximately 31 percent of motor vehicle deaths in 2012. The government estimates that drunk driving costs all 50 states approximately $60 billion in economic losses each year. The WalletHub study analyzed the strictness of DUI enforcement according to 15 different metrics, including minimum jail sentences, felony conviction, fines and child endangerment provisions.
In addition to how states respond after a DUI has occurred, the study analyzed DUI prevention tactics, including administrative license suspension, vehicle impounding, sobriety checkpoints and ignition interlock device requirements. Arizona was the strictest of all states, implementing a jail sentence of 10 days and a $250 fine for first-time DUI offenders. West Virginia ranked fourth with the longest jail sentence of 180 days for second-time offenders. Alaska took second place, issuing the largest DUI fines of $1,500 for a first offense and $3,000 for second offenses.
Rhode Island and Massachusetts require a 24-month ignition interlock period while Georgia suspends licenses for 12 months. South Dakota was the most lenient state with no minimum sentence for first or second DUI violations. Minnesota, the District of Columbia, New York, Missouri and Florida were also among the most lenient states. In 2013 alone, alcohol-impaired driving accounted for the deaths of 10,076 individuals.
Because DUI procedures and penalties vary significantly from one state to another, it may be beneficial for those charged with a DUI to consult an attorney who is familiar with New Jersey state law. In some cases, it may be possible to have charges dismissed if proper procedures were not followed during an arrest. From an improperly administered breath test to other field sobriety test issues, a criminal defense attorney may be able to protect the rights of drivers accused of driving under the influence.