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Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana
Sayreville NJ Marijuana DUI Defense Lawyers
Police throughout the New Jersey are cracking down on individuals driving under the influence of marijuana. The result of this increased influx of marijuana dwi cases has been re-examination of New Jersey law on this subject. A major issue of discussion in this regard has been whether or not the normal police officer is qualified to render an opinion that an individual is “under the influence” of marijuana. The reason for the debate stems from the fact that usually a specially trained police officer, referred to as a drug recognition expert (“DRE”), is required in order for the state to prove a drug dwi offense. However, in accordance with the New Jersey Supreme Court decision inn State v. Bealor, 187 N.J. 574 (2006), a narrow exception was originally provided to allow non drug recognition experts to establish intoxication where marijuana is the drug involved, so long as the officer has experience in field sobriety tests and marijuana intoxication. This area of the law is still evolving and this provides fertile ground for a lawyer skilled in handling dwi cases based on marijuana intoxication to obtain dismissal or downgrade of a 39:4-50 charge. Our attorneys possess this level of expertise and are ready to fight for you in Sayreville, Woodbridge, Edison, New Brunswick, East Brunswick, Old Bridge and other courts. Give us a call for immediate assistance at 732-246-7126.
How Does a Prosecutor Prove a Marijuana DWI Charge?
New Jersey does not have an individual law that addresses marijuana dwi charges. Instead, both alcohol and drug DWI offenses are addressed in one law, N.J.S.A. 39:4-50, titled “Driving While Intoxicated”. To prove a case under 39:4-50 based on marijuana intoxication, the State must demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant operated a motor vehicle while under the influence of marijuana. Police use scientific evidence in the form of a urine test or blood test to establish that an individual had marijuana in his or her blood stream at the time of the stop. Since marijuana remains, however, in an individual’s system for literally weeks, additional evidence is needed to prove a marijuana dwi. Testimony must be provided to establish that the marijuana caused the accused to be “under the influence” and, by virtue thereof, was unable to operate a motor vehicle safely. The way the state establishes this element is through testimony from an officer trained in marijuana intoxication. This testimony will attempt, through objective tests and observations of the accused, to link the presence of marijuana in the blood stream (assuming a test indicate such a presence existed) with objective evidence demonstrating that the physical or mental capabilities of the driver were impaired. The reliability of this evidence can become a crucial aspect of any case, especially when you have a knowledgeable marijuana dwi lawyer at your side.
Penalties for Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana (i.e Marijuana DWI)
If you are convicted of driving while under the influence of marijuana, N.J.S.A. 39:4-50 triggers a mandatory drivers license suspension, fines, possible jail and other penalties, the extent of which hinges on whether it is a first offense, second offense, or third or subsequent 39:4-50 offense. The following is a breakdown of the respective penalties.
- First Offense: the period of suspension for a first offense is at least seven (7) months and can be as high as one (1) year in the discretion of the court. A first offender will also face fines and other monetary assessments that approximate $750, a $1,000 per year DMV surcharge for a period of 3 years, up to 30 days in jail, and must perform 12 hours in the Intoxicated Drivers Resource Center.
- Second Offense: a mandatory two (2) year drivers license suspension and jail term of 2 to 90 days must be imposed for a second offense. The financial consequences include a fine that can reach $1,000 and additional assessments, including the same three (3) year DMV surcharge of $1,000. A second offender must also perform 30 days of community service, serve 48 hours in the Intoxicated Drivers Resource Center, and have an ignition interlock installed in his or her vehicle for 1-3 following restoration of his drivers license.
- Third Offense (or Greater): the penalties for a third offense are severe. A ten (10) year license suspension must be imposed, along with a mandatory jail term of 180 days. The entire jail term must be served with the exception of 90 days that can be suspended provided they are served in an in-patient rehabilitation facility. A fine of $1,000, $1,500 per year/3 year surcharge, 1-3 years of an ignitiion interlock, and 90 days community service also apply.
If the violation is committed in a School Zone, as outlined by N.J.S.A. 39:4-50(g)(1)(3), the fines, period of license suspension, and jail term are significantly increased.
Woodbridge Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana Attorney
With at least four (4) former DWI prosecutors on staff and three (3) lawyers with over twenty (20) years of experience, not to mention being one of two firms in the entire state with its own Alcotest Machine, we have considerable resources to bring to the plate for you. The fact also cannot be ignored that our attorneys have handled hundreds of driving under the influence of marijuana cases in municipalities like Woodbridge, Edison, Old Bridge and East Brunswick over the last several decades. An attorney is available 24/7 to provide you the guidance you need to get through the challenging process of litigating your marijuana dwi offense. Give us a call for immediate assistance at 732-246-7126.