Charged with Driving while under the Influence of Drugs for N.J.S.A. 39:4-50
Driving while impaired by drugs in New Jersey carries severe penalties. Whether you are caught driving under the influence of crack cocaine or physician-prescribed Xanax, you can expect to be arrested, tested, and possibly convicted of a Drug DUI offense. Although most people think of a DUI as a drunk driving offense, New Jersey’s DUI and DWI law, Section 39:4-50 also pertains to drugs, or as New Jersey law describes them, controlled dangerous substances (CDS). Due to prevalence of drugs in Burlington County and throughout New Jersey, countless individuals find themselves arrested for drugged driving in places such as Delran, Bordentown, Mount Holly, Mount Laurel, Willingboro, Cinnaminson, and Florence on a monthly basis. If you have been charged with a Drug DWI for driving under the influence of drugs, whether it be an illegal substance like heroin or a prescription drug like Oxycontin, the seasoned attorneys at the Law Offices of Proetta, Oliver & Fay are prepared to defend your case. With an extensive analysis of the arrest, testing protocols, lab reports, DRE and police observations, and other evidence, our New Jersey drug DWI defense lawyers will look for the needle in the haystack that may offer your best defense option to get the charges dismissed. Often, this involves motions to suppress critical evidence that the state intends to use against you. We prepare, argue, and win these motions in courts across Burlington County, NJ in our efforts to beat the charges against our clients accused of driving while high. Contact 609-850-8284 for a free legal consultation today.
Police Investigations of Driving while High in New Jersey
When an officer stops you for allegedly driving erratically, violating a traffic law, or for a fix-it type of violation, they may suspect that you are under the influence of a CDS in the same way that they can suspect alcohol in your system. To assess a driver, they use their immediate investigative tools, observation first, and look into your eyes, watch your movements, and hear your responses. With alcohol, they may smell liquor on your breath or in your car, but most drugs, aside from marijuana, are odorless. If they suspect you are impaired, they may ask you to perform field sobriety tests, which evaluate your balance (one-leg stand), coordination (walking a straight line), visual tracking (horizontal gaze nystagmus), and cognitive abilities for following directions.
They may further ask you if you have taken prescription drugs and ask you to produce the prescription. If you fail one or more tests or fail to produce a valid prescription, you may be taken to the police station and asked to take a urine and blood test to verify the presence of a controlled dangerous substance in your system, though you may refuse. Depending on the police department, you may be required to submit to a professional evaluation by an officer trained in recognizing drug intoxication. A Drug Recognition Expert, or DRE, can examine a subject’s pupils, pulse, blood pressure, arms, and gait, among other indicators, to assess drug impairment. They may even conduct their own field sobriety test in better lighting and grounds, unlike out in the field.
How does the Prosecutor Prove Driving under the Influence of Drugs in NJ?
When the drug DWI charges come to municipal court, the prosecutor must have evidence from the police reports, tests, and other elements from the investigation that the driver had CDS in their system that impaired their perception or motor skills and their ability to drive safely. The measure of sobriety is compared with how others drive under the same circumstances, with reasonable caution and vigilance. The police report is one type of evidence, as is dash cam video, the DRE report, field sobriety test results, and more. Additionally, the toxicity report may reveal the drugs in the defendant’s system. Using all of the evidence at their disposal, from before the initial stop through the arrest and everything that happened thereafter, the prosecutor must convince a judge beyond a reasonable doubt that you were driving impaired due to drugs.
New Jersey Drug DUI Charge Penalties
If convicted of a Drug DUI offense, you may be penalized to the fullest extent of the law based on the number of previous convictions you have, or if you are a first offender.
For a first-time conviction, you can be sentenced to a driver’s license suspension for 1 year, maximum fines of $500.00, a day or two at an Intoxicated Driver Resource Center (IDRC), up to 30 days in jail, a three-year $1,000.00 annual insurance surcharge, and additional administrative fees.
For a second offense, penalties are added. The potential fines double to $1,000, license suspension is for two years, plus 30 days of community service, a mandatory two days in jail and up to three months, 12 to 48 hours at the IDRC, and additional surcharges.
For a third offense, the judge can add losing your license for ten years and spending six months in prison, in addition to 12 to 48 hours at the IDRC, and three years of $1,500 annual surcharges.
Ways to Defend a Drug DWI Case
Whether the police arrest you for narcotics, hallucinogens, prescriptions or other addictive drugs as described in N.J.S.A. 39-:4-50, you will need help attacking the prosecutor’s case and getting the Drug DUI charges dismissed. You may also be charged with drug possession for possessing an illegal drug or having prescription medication without a prescription. The good news is, there are many potential ways to defend these cases.
As experienced DWI defense lawyers handling driving under the influence of drugs cases, we understand the problems that a prosecutor faces in making their case. First, they must convince a judge beyond a reasonable doubt, an extremely high standard, that you were impaired. Since there is no breathalyzer reading showing a blood alcohol content legal limit, the police officer’s assessment is critical. There may be an opportunity to cast doubt on the reliability of the officer’s observations and other police findings. For instance, people who are tired or sick may appear impaired in the same way as someone who is on sleep-inducing drugs.
Moreover, if the police did conduct urine and blood tests, urine tests are notoriously unreliable for detecting drugs in your system. Different drugs show up in a urine analysis days after ingestion, while others leave your system quickly and may not appear in a test. And even the testimony of a DRE, an assumed expert, is not invulnerable to attack. Observations by a professional no less than any other are only as good as the level of their expertise, the manner in which they conducted the evaluation, and many other factors that may test the reliability of a DRE evaluation.
In other words, an attorney who knows what to look for in driving under the influence of drugs arrests can defend you against the charges and possibly defeat the prosecutor at trial. But even before your case gets that far, your attorney can do so much more. By knowing what to expect and having a dedicated advocate who knows the local court where your case is being adjudicated, you can feel more confident and get the information you need to alleviate your concerns.
Call a Driving under the Influence of Drugs Attorney in Burlington, NJ
If you have been arrested and charged with driving under the influence of drugs, rest-assured that you may have more options for your defense that you realize. Begin the process of protecting your best interests by discussing what occurred when you were stopped and arrested. Contact our Burlington County criminal and DWI defense firm and speak to a Drug DWI lawyer who can help. Remember, the quality of your defense representation is as important as what the prosecutor’s evidence suggests for you and the state’s case. Contact our local office for a free consultation with Firm Partner and Former New Jersey Deputy Attorney General, William C. Fay, IV today. 24/7 Consultations at (609) 850-8284.
Our phones are answered 24 hours a day. We are available weekdays during business hours. We also meet with clients on evenings and weekends by request. We have four office locations conveniently located in Jersey City, Edison, Middletown, Cranford, Burlington, and Hamilton. All major credit cards are accepted.
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New Jersey 08742
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