DWI Per Se Photo by Patrick Schöpflin on Unsplash

DWI Per Se Photo by Patrick Schöpflin on Unsplash

Legal terms can get confusing and overwhelming, especially when it involves a DWI in New Jersey. Primarily, a single offense can come with a wide range of possible penalties. Likewise, the law is full of acronyms that often overlap and bleed into one another. One example comes from New Jersey’s DWI and DWI per se laws. If you’ve received a DWI citation like one of these, it’s understandable to have some confusion. However, there are a few key differences between the two, though.


DWI, or “driving while intoxicated,” is precisely what it sounds like. If a driver receives a conviction for a DWI charge, it means that he or she was driving while under the influence of alcohol, and the alcohol impaired his or her ability to drive. It’s crucial to note that with DWI charges, the amount of alcohol does not matter. As long as (1) the driver has consumed any amount of alcohol and (2), that alcohol has somehow impacted driving ability, the driver can receive a conviction of a DWI. Note that in a DWI charge, nobody has to prove that the driver had a BAC (blood alcohol content) above the legal limit. One only has to prove that the driver consumed alcohol and then drove dangerously.

DWI Per Se

DWI Per Se is very similar to a simple DWI. In a DWI Per Se charge, the defendant stands accused of driving with a BAC of 0.08% or higher. In this case, a DWI Per Se is essentially the inverse of a DWI. In a DWI, the key is the driver’s behavior, and the number doesn’t matter. In a DWI Per Se, they key is the number, and for the sake of the charge, the behavior doesn’t matter. Whether or not the accused drove erratically, he or she will be charged with a DWI Per Se if somebody proves that this person has a BAC of at least 0.08%.

The Similarities

Besides the common denominator of alcohol, DWI and DWI Per Se charges have several other things in common. First of all, both convictions can result in steep fines that can severely impact the driver’s financial situation for years to come. Both charges can result in jail time and other penalties. Finally, with both DWI and DWI Per Se charges, it’s a wise idea to seek legal advice.

Seeking Legal Counsel

If you or a loved one has received a citation for a DWI or DWI Per Se, your first step after learning the difference should include seeking legal advice. If you would like to talk to an attorney about your case, David C. Barry would love to help. Use the contact form on our homepage or call us at 732-204-7387.