NJ Drunk Driving and DUI Defense Update: Caught with Weed in Your Car?

Times change, as they say, and nothing indicates change like the increased use of medical marijuana as well as illegal pot. Although many states around the nation have passed medicinal marijuana laws, state law enforcement agencies and local police are still stopping individuals who are possibly impaired due to driving while under the influence of a controlled dangerous substance (CDS), in this case marijuana or weed.

Whether a driver is actually impaired due to smoking hash or cannabis (drug DUI), or because of alcohol consumption (DWI) or just drowsy behind the wheel, traffic enforcement officers will likely key on possible erratic driving behavior or a defective vehicle equipment as justification for a traffic stop.

Since marijuana is one of the most common drugs encountered in the New Jersey area, marijuana possession arrests are relatively common. Possession in a vehicle is a chargeable offense and usually requires the services of a qualified drunk driving and DUI defense attorney.

  • The questions that anyone arrested for marijuana possession should include the following:
  • Did the officer have probable cause before he pulled you over?
  • Did officers conduct a proper search of your vehicle (or person)?
  • Can a local prosecutor actually prove possession or control of the pot discovered?
  • Did law enforcement officers maintain a proper chain of custody and testing of the marijuana?

When it comes to proving possession, there are two types: actual and constructive. In cases where the state is trying to prove an individual was involved in the distribution of marijuana, it is essential for prosecutors to establish possession of the marijuana in question. It’s important to understand that actual possession is literally the physical control of the marijuana coupled with a so-called awareness that the substance in question is, in fact, pot.

On the other hand, constructive possession constitutes an individual being aware that he or she is in the presence of the drug — including the intention of possessing and the capacity to control the substance. Any individual accused of this must have the power and purpose to exercise control of the marijuana to be in constructive possession.

Of course, being arrested for possession of marijuana in a vehicle can result in a mandatory two-year driver’s license suspension. And unlike a drunk driving-related suspension, possession of marijuana in a motor vehicle means a complete and total exclusion from operating a motor vehicle. Understand that when it comes to possession of pot in a car there are no special provisions under the law, such as a work license or a conditional driver’s license. This is in addition to fines, assessments and other surcharges that inevitably are attached to a conviction involving marijuana possession in a motor vehicle.