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.