New Jersey Drug Charge: Mandatory Drivers License Suspension
One of the more bewildering calls our lawyers receive are from individuals who have made the mistake of attempting to handle a drug charge on their own only to walk out of court with their drivers license suspended for six (6) months or more. The truth is that imposition of a suspension is a rare occurrence when our law firm, the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall, handles a drug case. Don’t make the mistake of contacting us when it is too late—our attorneys can assist you in avoiding a revocation of your driving privilege. A lawyer is available 24/7 at 1-877-450-8301. One of our lawyers can provide you with the information you need in a free initial consultation now.
Mandatory License Suspension for Drug Offense – N.J.S.A. 2C:35-16
When a person is found guilty of a drug related offense under Title 35 or 36, N.J.S.A. 2C:35-16 carries a motor vehicle license suspension. This law reads as follows:
“A person convicted of or adjudicated delinquent for a violation of any offense defined in this chapter or chapter 36 of this title shall forthwith forfeit his right to operate a motor vehicle over the highways of this State for a period to be fixed by the court at not less than six months or more than two years which shall commence on the day the sentence is imposed unless the court finds compelling circumstances warranting an exception. For the purposes of this section, compelling circumstances warranting an exception exist if the forfeiture of the person’s right to operate a motor vehicle over the highways of this State will result in extreme hardship and alternative means of transportation are not available.”
N.J.S.A. 2C:35-16 requires that those convicted of controlled dangerous substance (“CDS”) or drug paraphernalia offenses have their drivers license suspended unless the court finds compelling circumstances warranting an exception. Compelling reasons exist where “extreme hardship” would result from a suspension. It must also be demonstrated that alternative means of transportation are not available. The hardship argument is certainly best left for an attorney as relief from the mandatory suspension is a narrow exception and not the norm.
- Term of Forfeiture. The suspension period to operate a motor vehicle under this law ranges from six months to two years. It must be kept in mind that the period a license is suspended under this statute is separate and apart from the two years that apply for possessing CDS in a motor vehicle.
- PTI & Conditional Discharge. Forfeiture of driving privileges is not mandatory when someone receives a conditional discharge or is admitted into Pretrial Intervention. In this regard, the Court has discretion to suspend, revoke or postpone a person’s ability to hold a license and drive. Our attorneys almost always avoid a suspension.
- Non-Code Offenses Excluded. The forfeiture of driving privileges under this law does not apply to charges falling outside Title 35 or 36. A strategy undertaken by our lawyers is therefore to seek a downgrade or amendment of a drug charge to loitering in a drug area under N.J.S.A. 2C:33-2.1, especially for those with prior drug arrests or convictions.
- Juveniles. The mandatory drivers license suspension also applies to juveniles. Where a minor is found guilty of a drug offense before he has a license to operate a motor vehicle, the revocation period begins when he is eligible to drive (i.e. turns seventeen). If his privilege to drive is already suspended, revoked or postponed, then the suspension imposed under N.J.S.A. 2C:35-16 is consecutive (i.e. suspension period does not begin until the others are up).
- Out of State Licenses. For a person who holds a license in another state the suspension is of the New Jersey driving privileges and the officials of the other state are notified of the suspension.
Our attorneys can provide you with the guidance you are seeking in order to avoid a suspension of your driving privilege. A lawyer can be reached immediately at 1-877-450-8301.