Binge Drinking and DWI in Bergen County and New Jersey by the Numbers

Hackensack NJ DWI Lawyer
Source: Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (CDC)

Alcohol consumption, binge drinking, underage drinking, and drunk driving have been the focus of government leaders, nonprofit organizations, researchers, and our society at large for decades. In fact, discussions about drinking and its costs, including those associated with drinking and driving, have become part of our national discourse. Unfortunately, these discussions often fail to account for how DWI adversely affects those who are personally charged with these offenses. In this article, we will delve into the numbers, to find out about about binge drinking in New Jersey, national trends as it relates to drinking, and the potential consequences of being charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI) or driving under the influence of drugs (DUI) in Bergen County.

Excessive Drinking Defined and Documented

Excessive drinking encompasses two distinct types of alcohol consumption: binge drinking and heavy drinking. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines “binge drinking,” as the consumption of 4 or more drinks in a single occasion for women and 5 or more drinks in a single occasion for men. It describes “heavy drinking” as drinking 15 or more drinks per week for men or 8 or more drinks per week for women. According to CDC data, New Jersey falls in the middle of the range when compared with binge drinking rates across the United States. Specifically, 17 percent of New Jersey residents meet the criteria for excessive drinking. On average, a person in New Jersey consumes 6.9 drinks during one binge drinking episode.

Although we often associate the concept of binge drinking with college students and other young people, a recent study conducted by Dr. Benjamin Han at NYU Langone Medical Center, revealed a striking increase in the rate of binge drinking among people over the age of 50, particularly among women. The study examined data gathered between 2005 and 2014 by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health and found a 19 percent increase in self-reported excessive drinking among over 50-year-olds. The largest increase was found among women.

When Binge Drinking Leads to DWI

Consuming alcohol, in large or small quantities, is legal in New Jersey and the United States. Unless excessive drinking is done in public (public intoxication), it leads to disruptive behavior (disorderly conduct), it is done by someone under the legal drinking age of 21 (underage drinking), or it causes other issues such as fights (simple assault), simply being drunk is not a crime. However, when a person operates a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, everything changes. The legal limit for Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) in New Jersey is 0.08%. If you are found driving a car with a BAC that exceeds that limit, you will face charges for driving while intoxicated (DWI). Shockingly, depending on your gender, weight, level of hydration, food consumption, and other factors, you can be legally intoxicated without any sense of being drunk.

DWI Penalties in New Jersey

New Jersey categorizes DWI offenses in three tiers: first offense, second offense, and third or subsequent offense. As the number of DWI convictions in your past increases, the severity of the penalties to which you are exposed increase accordingly. The chart below provides the consequences of a DWI conviction based on the number (if any) of previous DWI offenses and the BAC of the person at the time of the offense (if applicable):

Offense Tier


Driver’s License Suspension


Jail Sentence

Intoxicated Driver Resource Center (IDRC)

1st DWI

0.08% to 0.10%

3 months


Maximum 30 days

12-48 hours

1st DWI

Above 0.10% 

7 months to 1 year


Maximum 30 days

12-48 hours

2nd DWI

2 years

$500 to $1,000

Maximum 90 days

48 hours

3rd DWI

10 years


Mandatory 180 days

Based on the specific case

When you are charged with DWI or another alcohol-related crime in New Jersey, the consequences of being found guilty can be severe, with the potential to spell long-term negative implications for your life. To protect your rights and your innocence, contact our New Jersey DWI defense attorneys today at (201)-330-4979. One of our highly knowledgeable lawyers will provide you with a cost-free consultation over the phone or schedule an appointment with you at our conveniently-located Hackensack offices.

For more information about binge drinking rates and trends, access the following resources:


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