Articles Posted in Marijuana DUI

Now that summer is officially over, there are still many Garden State motorists awaiting their day in court to answer to charges of impaired driving lodged against them by local and state police during the long Labor Day holiday. Whether arrested for intoxication by alcohol or impairment via some kind of drug (either legally obtained prescription medications or illicit substances, like marijuana or cocaine), the odds of paying dearly for an error in judgment or momentary indiscretion can be quite high.

As New Jersey DWI defense lawyers, my law firm is dedicated to assisting those individuals who have been accused of a serious drunken driving offense. Though many people would disagree, until it actually happens to them, even an instance of breath test refusal can lead to costly penalties. If you or someone you know was arrested for drunk driving arrest, drug DUI, or CDS (controlled dangerous substance) possession, my colleagues and I understand how frightening the future may seem without a good plan in place.

Whether you were arrested in Middlesex, Hudson, Ocean or Bergen County, it is certain that the memories a carefree holiday weekend were overshadowed by the stark reality of a DUI-DWI charge. Sadly this is a scenario that plays out all too often; sometimes on the way home from a family gathering or a cordial neighborhood block party, many times traveling home from a night out at the bar. Whatever preceded, the end result can be thousands of dollars in fines and insurance premium assessments, loss of driving privileges and even jail time.
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Of course, everyone knows that a drunken driving conviction can have a substantial impact on one’s wallet or pocketbook; that’s a given, right? Well, some people know that there can be thousands of dollars hanging in the balance before the final verdict is handed down in municipal court, but that’s not the subject of today’s discussion. Right now, we are talking about the perilous effects that a DWI or drug DUI charge can have on a person’s job, livelihood and even long-term career prospects.

You see, as Garden State DWI-DUI defense attorneys, my colleagues and I know that there are a large number of more obvious consequences following a drunk driving or drug DUI conviction. These can and many times do include community service, license suspension, very stiff fines, and jail time. But these immediate and rather palpable consequences aside, most individuals fail to consider the truly devastating effect that a drunken driving or drug DUI conviction can have on one’s life and future happiness. Many people are simply not aware that they can end up with severe and long-lasting problems involving their job and career — not just now, but in the weeks, months and years following a DWI-DUI conviction.

As drunken driving defense experts, we understand why many normally law-biding citizens end up suffering much more serious personal and professional complications after being convicted of a drug DUI or DWI offense. Many first encounter the collateral effects of a conviction when they find that their job may be at stake for what seemed like an innocent lapse in judgment. Keep in mind that actions often do have consequences and, these days, drinking and driving can often trigger serious repercussions at work.
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As civil and criminal trial lawyers here in the Garden State, a large portion of our caseload is represented by client’s who have been accused of drinking and driving. Operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol is a long-standing public safety problem here in New Jersey, which is why a great deal of time and effort is spent by state government, police agencies and our judicial system in the curbing of this admittedly dangerous activity.

Similarly, drug DUI is also viewed as a safety issue on public roadways, and so our state laws include penalties for driving under the influence of hallucinogenic, habit-forming and narcotic substances, typically grouped into what is known as controlled dangerous substances, or CDSs. Marijuana — also referred to as pot, weed, hash or cannabis — is on the prohibited CDS list.

Although New Jersey, the federal government, and most other states still view marijuana as an illicit drug when it comes to recreational use, more and more people are leaning toward the legalization of pot, even beyond the legalized “medicinal” applications that even our state has adopted. Look at the public attitude toward pot in places like Colorado and you will see there is a huge revolution in the making.
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Every day, dozens of drivers all around the Garden State find themselves in the unenviable position of being arrested and later charged with impaired driving. While the safety of our roadways is everyone’s concern, as Monmouth County trial lawyers working in the area of DWI and drug DUI law, we understand how innocent individuals can occasionally be accused of offenses they believe they did not commit. One type of traffic-related offense that happens quite often in our state is that of impaired driving resulting from the use or abuse of a controlled dangerous substance (CDS).

Under New Jersey law (N.J.S.A. 39:4-50[a]), motorists can be arrested for operating a car, truck or motorcycle if a police officer believes that the individual is under the influence of a hallucinogenic, narcotic, or habit-producing substance. Unlike drunken driving, which can be quantified by measuring an individual’s blood-alcohol concentration (or BAC), a charge of drug DUI should usually be supported by the opinion of an expert in the field of drugs and medicines that have the ability to cause impairment.

While the requirements affecting a drug DUI arrest have been somewhat relaxed while the topic is being argued on appeal in the New Jersey court system, the issue of who can and should determine a driver’s impairment is all the more important to those facing charges of driving under the influence of an illegal substance, or even a doctor-prescribed medication.
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Although being charged with drinking while intoxicated by alcohol is a very serious traffic offense, there are other activities that can get Garden State motorists in hot water rather quickly as well. The term impaired driving is often used as a catch-all for any number of offenses, such as DWI and DUI, but with the advent of cell phones, smartphones and even iPads and other portable tablets, being distracted while driving may soon be just another version of being impaired.

When it comes to the more traditional forms of impaired driving, the drug-related kind (or drug DUI) combines not only the charge of being impaired behind the wheel, but also the use and/or possession of a controlled dangerous substance (CDS). Overall, it goes without saying that driving under the influence of drugs is at least on a par with DWI in the eyes of traffic enforcement officers.

By law, specifically N.J.S.A. 39:4-50(a), any individual can be arrested for operating a motor vehicle while impaired by a hallucinogenic, narcotic or habit producing drug. Proof of impairment or intoxication due to CDS use is generally provided in the form of an expert opinion, however this requirement is currently relaxed during the ongoing appeals process in our state’s judicial system.
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Middletown police filed multiple arrests in late April and early May for motorists in the area who were suspected of drunken driving and other DUI-related traffic offenses. As Garden State DWI defense lawyers, my team of experienced trial attorneys understand the fear and apprehension that a drunk driving arrest can cause the average person. But regardless of the circumstances under which a driver has been accused of intoxicated operation of a motor vehicle, the prudent course is often to contact a qualified DWI lawyer for advice and counsel.

Although the state of New Jersey has banned plea bargaining in cases of DWI and drug DUI, there are still instances where the state’s evidence does not hold up in court. As such, a skilled drunk driving defense lawyer has the litigation background and legal training to handle a DWI-DUI case and perhaps lessen or reduce the potential penalties following a drunken driving conviction. There are occasions where the court will dismiss a DWI charge, based on lack of evidence or improper police procedures that are specified by law.

As with many kinds of criminal and civil court cases, the secret to avoiding a conviction or obtaining a downgrade in charges, and therefore penalties, is identifying certain points that will help to undermine the prosecution’s case against the defendant. Interesting enough, many DWI and drug DUI charges arise from what began as a simple or relatively routine traffic stop.
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It’s already on the books, that is, the Garden State’s legal statutes that specify the use of marijuana (and certain other substances) as grounds for being arrested and charged with driving under the influence. Whatever you call it: weed, pot, grass, hash, or just plain Mary Jane, marijuana has for years been listed as one of many controlled dangerous substances (CDSs), all of which are considered illegal because they are either hallucinogenic or habit-forming. As New Jersey DWI defense lawyers, my legal team has been defending motorists charged with marijuana DUI for years now.

Under New Jersey statute 39:4-50, any motorist operating a car, truck or motorcycle who is found to be under the influence of any habit-producing drug or narcotic can be arrested and charged with a violation of state law. The fines and punishments are not unlike those associated with alcohol-related DWI; hundreds of dollars in fines, plus possible jail time and suspension of one’s driver’s license. The interesting thing is that we may just see more and more pot-related DUIs in the future thanks to the course of marijuana legalization in many states.

From a legal point of view, the use of weed versus the consumption of beer, wine or hard liquor has some differences. In fact, the statute covering marijuana DUI does not provide for any specific criteria on how the state should determine that a driver was actually under the influence of marijuana when pulled over by a police officer. The proving of this element becomes what attorneys refer to as a “fact specific” inquiry.
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For anyone who has not been through the ordeal of a DWI arrest and court case, please understand that it is often not only a potentially costly exercise, but can sometimes be an embarrassing event in one’s life. For most people in the Garden State, driving while intoxicated is something that they would never think of consciously doing, but many people would be surprised how easy it truly is to find oneself pulled over on the side of the road and accused of DWI.

When it comes to proving alcohol-related DUI, the state typically relies upon breathalyzer readings (or sometimes a direct blood test) to establish a blood-alcohol concentration, or BAC. If the results are shown to be above the legal limit of 0.08 percent BAC, the prosecution will feel that it has a relatively strong case against a motorist. As New Jersey drunk driving specialists, my skilled team of DWI defense attorneys has the experience to fight DWI charges even when the evidence appears to be unassailable.

Breathalyzer tests are generally conducted by the police following an arrest for suspected drunk driving, during which certain procedures must be followed for the BAC results to be valid in a court of law. As one might expect, to be accepted in court, this key piece of evidence must meet a number of standards by law. If the manner of collection of the BAC results deviates from the related standards, or if there is a potential weakness in any of this important proof, an experienced DWI-DUI lawyer can call into question its validity.
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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.
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This being the Garden State it is not unusual to read about dozens of drunk driving arrests and drug-related DUI cases emanating any particular portion of the state. Certainly, Essex County is only one of a dozen or so jurisdictions that see concentrations of heavy DWI patrols and roadside sobriety checkpoint activities from time to time. As skilled DWI-DUI defense lawyers, the attorneys are the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall are familiar with the potential volume of drunken driving cases moving through our state’s court system every month.

When considering cause and effect, it can be stated with a fair amount of certainty that an increase in anti-DWI and drug-DUI enforcement can have a direct impact on the number of drunken driving arrests in any one area, and as a result, more drunken driving cases in municipal courtrooms throughout these areas. We take no joy in the increased incidence of drunken driving, regardless of the reasons, but we are aware that a percentage of DWI arrests are based on weak or insufficient evidence.

In towns and cities all around New Jersey, the summertime driving season brings with it the promise of increased drunk driving patrols and other traffic safety enforcement efforts. Being DWI defense attorneys, I and my staff of experienced DWI lawyers fully understand how some drunk driving arrests may either be unwarranted or faulty in some way, shape or form. This is why we also recommend that any driver accused of DWI or drug DUI should, at the very least, consult a qualified DWI lawyer to better understand his or her options going forward.
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