Alcohol consumption prior to driving is one of the more common causes of DUI arrests in New Jersey, however with doctor-prescribed medications on the rise more and more drivers are being stopped and charged by law enforcement for driving under the influence of drugs (also known as drug DWI).
As Middlesex, Ocean, and Monmouth County drunken driving defense attorneys, I and my legal staff understand the seriousness of these kinds of traffic offenses. Whether driving under the influence of beer, wine or hard liquor, or caught for operating a motor vehicle while impaired by prescription or over-the-counter medication, the New Jersey legal system takes a dim view of all these offenses.
Not long ago, a driver currently a Wayne, NJ, resident was arrested by police following a crash that occurred in Passaic County. According to news reports, a witness observed a car being driven erratically around the Willowbrook Mall parking lot. Police reports show that 37-year-old Mara Smith was behind the wheel of a Lexus SUV when it allegedly struck a parked Porsche Boxster owned by a Totowa resident.
News articles stated that Smith was attempting to leave the scene when police arrived and pulled the woman over. According to reports, when officers requested the driver to exit her vehicle, she was “unable to stand.”The same witness claimed that the suspect’s vehicle hit several curbs and almost struck two pedestrians at different locations in the parking lot.
Police reports indicate that the suspect told officers that she doesn’t drink because of the prescription medication she must take for severe neck pain. Apparently the patrolman on the scene did not believe the woman’s claims and had her perform several sobriety tests after noting that her eyes were red and watery.
Taking her into custody, the police administered a breathalyzer test to determine the woman’s blood-alcohol content (BAC), however the Alcotest device showed that the driver had no alcohol in her system. Suspecting medication, a certified drug recognition expert observed the suspect, after which police discovered that she had Vicodin pain medication in her possession, as well as a muscle relaxant, Soma. Reports indicate that the motorist had valid prescriptions for both drugs. Smith was issued a summons for DWI and released to her husband.
Woman arrested, charged with DWI after hitting car in mall lot, NorthJersey.com, October 7, 2010