Charged with Driving While Under the Influence of Marijuana?
The most common variety of drug DWI charge heard in New Jersey involves marijuana. Individuals often refer to this offense as “DUI” but, in actuality, there isn’t a distinction between CDS and alcohol based charges under the NJ Driving While Intoxicated law — N.J.S.A. 39:4-50. If you were arrested on suspicion of driving impaired by marijuana (a.k.a. weed, pot, etc.) in violation of 39:4-50, we can help. Our DUI defense team is not only the largest in the state, but is also probably second to none in terms of credentials. We are prepared to exhaust all of our experience and skill to challenge the blood test and field sobriety/drug recognition tests the state intends to rely upon to prosecute you. And our attorneys are available immediately to answer your questions and to discuss exactly how we would go about defending you. A New Jersey Drug DUI lawyer is prepared to speak to you now at 877-450-8301.
How Does a Police Officer and/or Prosecutor Prove A Marijuana DWI?
While N.J.S.A. 39:4-50 is drafted in terms of “driving while intoxicated” from alcohol, the law is intended to address intoxication from any substance including narcotics, hallucinogens or any habit forming drugs. When an individual is arrested for being under the influence of marijuana (i.e. a marijuana DWI/DUI), this is the reason why they are charged under 39:4-50. However, unlike an alcohol case where the breathalyzer is typically the standard for establishing intoxication, a 39:4-50 marijuana case usually involves scientific evidence in the form of a blood test or urine test. Another important distinction in a weed case stems from the fact this scientific evidence is limited in that it only verifies the presence of marijuana in a persons body and does not quantify the level such as in the case of blood alcohol. To establish guilt for driving while under the influence of marijuana, there must be testimony from an individual trained in marijuana intoxication to link the presence of marijuana with objective evidence demonstrating that the physical and/or mental abilities of the accused were impaired; in other words, there must be reliable testimony to establish that the marijuana in the blood was of a sufficient level to render the defendant unable to operate a motor vehicle safely.
Can the Police Force Me to Submit to a Urine or Blood Test?
While the answer to this question was somewhat grey in the past, the United States Supreme Court recently clarified this issue in Missouri v. McNeely. A full copy of the opinon is available for review by clicking here. The gist of the decision, which is binding law for all courts in New Jersey, is that the police cannot force an individual to provide a blood test and/or urine test without first seeking the issuance of a warrant for the sample from a judge.
How Does the Prosecutor and/or Police Prove that a Suspect Was “Intoxicated” When the Substance in Question is Marijuana?
In a DWI case involving marijuana or some other drug as opposed to alcohol, there must be expert testimony to establish that the drugs found in the system of the suspect rendered the driver impaired and unable to safely operate a motor vehicle. The precise language found in cases discussing this point indicate that the police must show that the marijuana “altered [the motorists] physical coordination and mental faculties as to render such person a danger to himself as well as to other persons on the highway.” In order to prove that a suspect operated while in this state, the general rule is that the accused had to be tested, at the time of the arrest, by a specially trained police officer referred to as a Drug Recognition Expert (“DRE”). In cases involving marijuana, however, there is a narrow exception to the DRE requirement that allows a prosecutor to establish intoxication through testimony from a non-DRE police officer if they are trained in field sobriety and experienced in marijuana intoxication.
If you or a loved one was arrested and charged with violating N.J.S.A. 39:4-50 for marijuana, our attorneys are ready to assist you. We have a defense team that includes several former prosecutors who are well versed in marijuana DUI and who know how to attack a case. Give us a call anytime 24/7 and one of the lawyers on our staff will assist you.
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