New Jersey DWI Defense Update: Considering the Differences Bewteen Drug DUI and Drunk Driving Cases

Drunk driving arrests can happen anywhere, anytime. In the Garden State, state police and local law enforcement agencies have little tolerance for motorists who drive while under the influence of alcohol, prescription drugs and, and illicit and illegal drugs (also known as controlled dangerous substances, or CDS).

As a New Jersey drunk driving defense lawyer, I and my staff have vast experience defending drivers accused of operating a motor vehicle while impaired by alcohol or drugs. In fact, it is common for drunken driving charges to be brought against an individual who is suspected of driving under the influence of drugs (also known as DUID). These include but are not necessarily limited to narcotic, hallucinogenic, or habit-forming substances.

It is important to understand also that New Jersey law prohibits driving if a person is impaired by marijuana, cocaine, or other narcotics — which even includes prescription drugs such as morphine. For legal purposes, the standard of proof used to establish a narcotic-based DWI charge has been established in the 2006 court case of State v. Bealor. Furthermore, in State v. DiCarlo, the law actually defines the term narcotic — for the specific purpose of establishing a basis for driving while intoxicated charges here in New Jersey.

Defending against a DUID requires a slightly different approach than that of a DWI defense, at least in the area of blood and breath tests. One area in particular is challenging any chemical test that may have been administered to evaluate a driver’s alleged drug use. It’s a fact that New Jersey’s implied consent law applies only to alcohol and doesn’t require that a motorist to provide blood, breath or urine samples when he or she is suspected of driving while impaired by drugs.

It is important to note that the law makes a distinction between drivers of privately-owned passenger cars and truck drivers (or other person with a commercial driver’s license or CDL). These individuals are required to take a chemical test if they are involved in a traffic accident or even suspected of driving under the influence of drugs.

When it comes to chemical tests, it is understood that the concentration of a drug in the bloodstream does not necessarily reflect the level of that individual’s intoxication. For DUID defense purposes, chemical tests (when used to detect drugs in the bloodstream) are only valid if they were administered by a DRE or drug recognition expert. If the police station tests a driver but has no DRE on staff, the evidence will be inadmissible in a court of law.

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