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.
Once in a court of law, in order to obtain a guilty verdict, the prosecution must prove a violation of N.J.S.A. 39:4-49.1; specifically, that there was “operation” of the vehicle by the defendant, and that the driver in question had weed on his or her person, as well as that the accused knowingly possessed that marijuana. Whether or not the state can get a conviction will typically be a function of the defense attorney’s skill and the strength of the evidence.
These types of cases come up on a fairly regular basis all across the Garden State. A short time ago, we ran across a news article describing such a scenario involving a couple of young men in Ocean County. According to that report, police officers from Berkeley Twp. were called to the scene of a suspicious vehicle sitting in Bayville Park. When the officers arrived they found two 18-year-old males — a local Bayville resident and a teen from Barnegat, NJ — occupying the vehicle.
During the police investigation, the patrolmen discovered a small amount of pot (less than an ounce), which allegedly appeared to be packaged for resale. The policemen took the two individuals into custody and charged them with possession of a CDS with the intent to distribute. The two also were charged with another violation, that of possession of a CDS with the intent to distribute in a recreation zone. They were each held on $5,000 bail pending a hearing in Toms River municipal court.
For anyone who thinks that this kind of arrest will result in a minor fine and minimal penalties, think again. In New Jersey, the downside of a potential conviction for possession of pot in a motor vehicle is a mandatory two-year license suspension. Furthermore, this constitutes a total bar from driving; there is no provision under the New Jersey statutes for a so-called work license or conditional driver’s license during the suspension period. For this reason alone, forgetting any monetary penalties, it is important to retain the services of an experienced DWI-DUI defense lawyer before stepping foot into a courtroom.
Two Arrested On Drug Charges In Bayville Park, Patch.com, November 19, 2013