To many people a DWI is just a DWI; it’s an instance of being charged by a police officer for driving under the influence of alcohol. However, there are other types of impaired driving offenses, the more serious of which can be those that go under the heading of drug DUI. While alcohol can and does affect a driver’s judgment, as well as his or her ability to react to traffic situations, drugs of all types can cause a person to be less able to operate a motor vehicle.
For the above reasons, the New Jersey legislature has enacted laws that make it illegal to drive a car, motorcycle or truck while impaired by any number of substances. Whether a motorist is impaired because of a bad prescription drug interaction, or due to the use of a controlled dangerous substance (CDS) like marijuana or cocaine, our legal statutes (for instance, N.J.S.A. 39:4-50[a]) make it a chargeable offense for operating a vehicle while under the influence of hallucinogenic, narcotic, or habit producing drugs.
Unlike alcohol-based DWI offenses, a drug DUI charge has often been pursued by local prosecutors’ offices using expert opinions as to the effect that a certain type of substance had on the defendant’s ability to operate a motor vehicle. When approaching DWI and drug DUI cases, the term “under the influence” has generally been defined to mean a “substantial” deterioration or diminution of an individual’s mental faculties or physical capabilities due to an intoxicating liquor, a narcotic, a hallucinogenic or a habit producing drug.
These physical symptoms — such as glassy eyes, drooping eyelids, disruption of the individual’s fine motor skills — can be caused by a wide range of legal medications as well as illegal drugs. When it comes to defending against this kind of offense, a qualified attorney should carefully examine the probable cause reported by the patrolman prior to the actual arrest of the driver.
Whether an intoxicating drug is ingested by itself, or if a CDS is taken along with alcohol or other types of drugs, a breathalyzer test for blood-alcohol content (BAC) and/or a blood or urine chemical analysis may be performed (with the driver’s consent) to determine the extent to which those intoxicating substances have found their way into that person’s bloodstream. (it is important to note that when a blood sample is taken, the law requires the police to follow a very specific procedure.)
Should you or someone you know be arrested and charged with DWI or drug DUI, it is always wise to consult with a qualified drunk driving defense lawyer. When drugs are involved, it is always a good course to choose, especially when considering the consequences of a DUI conviction. We thought of this the other day when we ran across an article describing the arrest of Marion Christopher Barry, the son of former Washington, D.C., mayor, Marion Barry; the man reportedly was picked up for marijuana-related DUI, as well as possession of marijuana in a motor vehicle.
According to news reports, police officers observed a Chrysler PT Cruiser being driven “erratically” in Hampton, VA, on a Friday evening this past summer. Following what might have been a simple traffic stop, the patrolmen apparently detected evidence that the 33-year-old Barry was carrying suspected marijuana. Upon further searching, those officers also came up with what authorities described as more suspected marijuana and synthetic marijuana. The man was subsequently arrested and charged with drug DUI and marijuana possession. At the time of the arrest, a court hearing had been set for mid-November.
New reports indicated that the younger Barry had pleaded guilty a couple years back to charges of possession of marijuana and PCP, after which he received a nine-month suspended sentence. As of this latest offense, Barry apparently has met all of his legal obligations to the state following that guilty plea in 2011.
Marion Barry’s Son Charged With DUI, Possession of Marijuana; NBCWashington.com; Thursday, Aug 29, 2013