Articles Posted in Marijuana Possession in a Vehicle

As DWI defense lawyers, my law firm has for years provided legal services to individuals who have been accused of driving while intoxicated by alcohol, impaired by prescription medications, and other drug or alcohol-related traffic offenses. Regardless of the circumstances — such driving home from an after-work get-together at a local pub, traveling along the Garden State Parkway following a social event, or even returning from a family gathering at the beach — if a driver has consumed even a seemingly minor amount of beer or wine, the opportunity can always exist for a DWI-DUI arrest.

As anyone who reads articles from local news sources can likely attest, there are near-constant reports regarding motorists who have been charged with driving a car, truck or motorcycle while inebriated, as well as some involving arrests for marijuana possession or prescription medication-related drug DUI. As professional drunk driving defense experts, my staff has represented clients in a wide variety of criminal and civil cases.

From DWI-related auto accidents and underage drunk driving, to arrests use or possession of a controlled dangerous substance (CDS), my law firm has the legal background and the trial experience to assist motorists accused of any manner of alcohol or drug-related traffic offenses. Living and working in the Garden State, it is not difficult to notice police activity on our roadways day and night. The following incidents are just a few of the typical (and some not so typical) arrests that take place in counties from Hudson and Passaic to Ocean and Cape May.
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Here in the Garden State, possession of marijuana in a motor vehicle (by a driver) is subject to stiff penalties if one is stopped by the police and charged with same. In terms of strict “possession,” if a traffic stop reveals that a driver has pot inside his vehicle, a summons for possession will likely be forthcoming. As New Jersey DWI and drug DUI defense lawyers, my colleagues and I are prepared to defend individuals accused of impaired driving, as well as simply having drugs on one’s person during a police stop.

In addition to defending motorists hit with a drug charge following a traffic stop on the parkway, interstate or in town, my legal team is skilled in handling traffic tickets issued for drug possession, including those for weed and other illegal or controlled dangerous substance (CDS). According to the New Jersey legal statutes — specifically N.J.S.A. 39:4-49.1 — the law prohibits any individual from driving a car, truck or motorcycle while knowingly being in possession of marijuana, cocaine, meth or other CDS. That said, it needs to be explained that this particular law is solely focused on the driver and not the passenger of a motor vehicle.

When attempting to prove such a violation, a municipal prosecutor is obliged to establish several key facts in order to win his case against a defendant. First, the state must prove that the accused was in control, or otherwise operating a motor vehicle. Second, a police officer must have found the weed or other drug on the driver’s person. Finally, it must be proved that the motorist “knowingly” possessed the illegal substance. A skilled attorney can sometimes find fault with the state’s case if the operator of the vehicle was not within what the law describes as “wingspan” of the physical control of the pot or other CDS. One common situation is when the substance was on the person of another occupant of the vehicle.
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Regardless of the nature of an initial roadside police stop — be it a burned-out headlamp, sliding through a controlled intersection without completely stopping, or drifting in and out of one’s lane — the opportunity for a drunk driving or drug DUI summons can go up appreciably depending on how the driver appears to the police officer in charge. Bloodshot eyes or an unsteady gait may cause a patrolman to suspect some kind of intoxication, though neither condition is a surefire sign of being drunk or impaired.

Despite what some people may believe, being charged for DWI-DUI based solely on watery eyes or some other vague observation is usually not sufficient to result in a conviction for driving while intoxicated; other evidence is needed beyond a more or less subjective assessment. Experienced DWI defense lawyers, such as the legal team at our law firm, can offer up a number of plausible explanations for a variety of conditions, from allergies and migraine headaches to very cold temperatures or high winds at the time of the arrest.

Since an arrest for DWI or drug DUI needs supporting evidence, as required by law, the prosecution will often attempt to prove that the defendant exhibited a “substantial deterioration or diminution” of his or her mental faculties/physical capabilities due to alcohol or hallucinogenic, narcotic or habit-producing drugs.
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With the legalization of medicinal marijuana already a reality in the Garden State, the use of pot to treat certain medical conditions opened up renewed concerns among law enforcement and traffic safety advocates. A great deal of the apprehension on the part of anti-marijuana advocates is the potential for an increase in cannabis-related traffic accidents. For now, the perceived threat is still somewhat low; however, with the increasing likelihood for eventual legalization of recreational marijuana, the worry in some sectors of the public, as well as our political leadership, is that weed will hit the mainstream sooner rather than later.

As a New Jersey DWI and drug DUI defense law firm, my legal staff understands how the potential future legalization of marijuana could have a serious impact on DUI enforcement. Never mind the possible benefits of bringing a much maligned illegal substance like pot to the same level as alcohol; many law enforcement experts suggest that the inherent dangers of “driving while high” could be just as bad or worse than DWI. That, of course, remains to be seen; in the meantime, however, possession of even a small amount of weed in a motor vehicle can result in some significant penalties.

New Jersey’s legal statutes currently specify that the use of marijuana (under most any circumstances) is grounds for arrest. Being impaired by this currently controlled dangerous substance (CDS) while operating a motor vehicle is most definitely a chargeable offense; yet, many drivers arrested for possession in a motor vehicle don’t realize that simply having pot on one’s person while driving a car in New Jersey could mean the loss of driving privileges, as well as stiff fines. State law (N.J.S.A. 39:4-49.1) specifically prohibits any person from operating a motor vehicle while knowingly in possession of marijuana, it’s just that simple.
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Rather few members of New Jersey’s law enforcement community have much sympathy when arresting drunk drivers here in the Garden State. And with the amount of energy devoted to stopping motorists who may or may not be inebriated, there should be no question as to the aim of most state and local DWI and drug DUI patrols; that is, to hand over to the local prosecutor’s office motorists who have in the eyes of the law very likely committed a drunken driving offense. Along with the defendant, police must also provide the municipal prosecutor with sufficient evidence to obtain a conviction.

Does it happen? Yes, indeed. Many people do have their day in court only to be found guilty and then have still penalties heaped upon them. The law is specific, not only in terms of the various criteria that must be met to attain a guilty verdict, but also the monetary penalties and other punitive actions, post-conviction, all provided for by this state’s drunken driving statutes. As DWI defense lawyers, our job is to consider all of the facts, particularly those held up by the prosecution as evidence that a motorist was truly drunk at the time of his or her arrest.

As drunk driving defense attorneys, my legal team knows that not every driver arrested for operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated was actually impaired beyond a reasonable doubt. My colleagues and I know that many people who are picked up for DWI-DUI — especially many first-time offenders — did not consciously decide to go out and break the law by driving drunk. However, once that traffic stop is made, and an officer suspects the driver of being impaired by alcohol or drugs, an arrest is most likely forthcoming, to be followed by formal charges and the setting of a hearing date in a municipal courtroom.
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As is often the case here in the Garden State, when the police observe a motor vehicle being driven in an erratic or dangerous manner, it is incumbent on those officers to look into the situation. If a patrolman deems it necessary to pull a driver over due to a traffic violation or vehicle problem, then what happens during that traffic stop could result in a warning, traffic summons, or even an arrest. Quite frequently, absent any other serious violations of New Jersey criminal statutes, arrests of motorists generally fall under alleged intoxication by alcohol or impairment or through the use of prescription medications or illicit drugs.

While use or possession of illegal drugs (sometimes known as controlled dangerous substances, of CDSs) in a motor vehicle can lead to criminal charges as well, driving under the influence is nothing to sneeze at. Look at the news pages of any large metropolitan area and one can see the numerous arrests of drivers and other individuals for DWI and drug DUI. As New Jersey drunk driving defense lawyers, the members of my legal staff assists dozens us motorists every month who have been accused of impaired driving.

No matter the location, whether here in Monmouth County, up in Bergen or down in Atlantic County, there are a variety of police stops every day that involve some kind of chargeable offense. The following news items from Ocean Township, as a for instance, illustrate the range of arrests that take place daily; any one of these could happen in the dozens of towns or cities throughout New Jersey.
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Depending on the type of DWI or drug DUI offense, the evidence against a motorist can portend some stiff penalties, in terms of fines, fees and assessments, as well as possible jail time. Regardless of the ultimate charges, it is safe to say that most every impaired driving arrest sometimes starts with a simple mistake made by a driver in the presence of a police officer. This can happen in small towns, larger cities or on the parkway or interstate.

No one can say what basic traffic law may be breached in order for a municipal cop or state trooper to effect a roadside stop, but once it does happen, all bets are off. Any evidence discovered during the ensuing traffic stop will likely be used by the prosecution in an effort to obtain a guilty verdict later in court. As Garden State DWI defense attorneys, my legal team is ready and willing to offer its expertise to those driver accused of drunken driving or drug-impaired motor vehicle operation.

Aside from DWI or DUI, other charges — either tied to an impaired driving charge or arising from the initial traffic stop — may be forthcoming. Breath test refusal, possession of a controlled dangerous substance (CDS), or other infraction may also result in an arrest and possible charges against the motorist. We often read of instances where people have been pulled over for one reason, only to be taken into custody for something less expected, at least to the police and third-party observers. Take for instance a news item we ran across a little while ago.
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It is certainly obvious to the majority of motorists that operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is definitely a chargeable offense here in the Garden State. However, fewer people realize that being legally drunk or otherwise impaired while sitting in a parked vehicle is also likely to bring a summons for DWI or drug DUI. As professional drunken driving defense lawyers, my legal team understands how such circumstances can translate into an expensive outcome for some drivers.

When it comes to driving under the influence of beer, wine or hard liquor, the laws of New Jersey are quite specific as to the evidence needed to convict a person of driving while intoxicated, as well as the potential fines and statutory assessments that can result following a guilty verdict. Drug use, or even possession, while driving a vehicle are also outlined in our state’s legal statues. But, again, many people will sometimes be confused by the nuances of the law; that is, those that apply to being “in control” of a motor vehicle while allegedly impaired.

In cases of possession of marijuana in a car or truck, there are important points to remember. If a police officer determines that a person is holding weed in an automobile, it is common for a motorist to receive a summons for pot possession in a motor vehicle. The law that governs this area (N.J.S.A. 39:4-49.1) specifically prohibits any individual from operating a car, truck or motorcycle while “knowingly” in possession of marijuana. Please remember that this applies only to the driver, and not the passenger.
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Here in the Garden State, one could say that DWI arrests are hardly uncommon, especially at times of the year when seasonal celebrations or holiday vacations mean more parties and family gatherings than usual throughout the state. As New Jersey DWI and drug DUI defense experts, the legal staff at my firm understands the ease with which a normally law-abiding individual can find himself taken into custody by a local or state police officer and charged with drunken or impaired driving.

Although getting pulled over happens to thousands of motorists every year, those who exhibit behaviors that lead a patrolman to suspect alcohol consumption or use of a controlled dangerous substance (CDS) could be facing stiff penalties down the road. Receiving a DWU or drug DUI summons can be a nerve-racking experience for most anyone who has never even had a traffic ticket for a simple moving violation.

Nevertheless, quite often a drunk driving summons or an arrest for possession of a CDS in a motor vehicle can begin with the most innocent of driving errors. We see it in news articles and in court transcripts all of the time; Failure to signal a turn, faulty headlights or license plate lamps, and even a chipped windshield can open a motorist up to scrutiny by a municipal cop or state trooper.
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Having defended a great many individuals accused of DWI throughout the years, the attorneys at our firm realize that nobody is immune to what is often referred to as the “long arm of the law.” Especially where traffic enforcement is concerned, patrolmen are usually quite vigilant when it comes to spotting erratic driving behavior on Garden State roadways. And if a motorist is found to have been drunk behind the wheel, the law does not discriminate — fines, court fees and increased auto insurance premiums are just a few of the penalties that await someone unlucky enough to be found guilty of DWI.

And, as New Jersey drunken driving defense lawyers, we are well aware that both young and old are equally likely to be arrested for drunk driving. Although older drivers may have more experience behind the wheel, the intoxicating effects of alcohol or a controlled dangerous substance (CDS), such as marijuana, cocaine or meth, can make even the most qualified driver less than effective on the road.

With many kinds of traffic offenses, usually the more minor ones however, a motorist’s age and driving history can work in his or her favor. Unfortunately, with the focus on eliminating the dangers of drinking and driving from New Jersey roads, courts are unlikely to give an older, seasoned driver a “pass” when it comes to a drunk driving arrest. A good driving record can be a plus, but depending on the circumstances, penalties both in terms of monetary fines and jail time can still be a significant possibility.
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