In the state of New Jersey, a DWI from the consumption of drugs is treated much differently than a DWI from the consumption of alcohol. A drug-related DWI can result from erratic driving after the consumption of either legal or illegal drugs including marijuana, cocaine, hallucinogens, and certain prescription medicine. The evidence used to convict differ greatly between the two charges.
While officers use the field sobriety test or a breathalyzer test to determine intoxication, they use a number of different methods to test whether a driver is under the influence of drugs, none of them considered standard.
Instead, officers use a evaluation to determine whether or not a driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. That process includes checking your blood pressure, pulse, pupils, muscles, temperature, and reactions to light.
Although most people would assume that this requires medical training to some degree, the officer does not actually have to have any formal training to determine if you are under the influence of drugs. This allows you to build a strong defense by challenging the validity of the examination.
Another way to challenge a drug-based DWI is by questioning the legality of the initial stop. The police cannot pull you over or search your car without probable cause. If you were pulled over on suspicion of a DWI, the arresting officer doesn’t have the right to search your vehicle for drugs. Any drugs must be in plain view of the officer in order for them to confiscate it. If the officer violates any of these rules, the search was illegal and can result in any drug related evidence being dismissed.
It’s important to note that New Jersey’s implied consent law is limited to alcohol-related DWI’s only. Unless you are a commercially licensed driver, it is legal for you to refuse a breath, blood, or urine tests. If you were forced into a test and were then charged with a drug-related DWI, an experienced attorney can work to have your charges reduced or even dismissed.
Even if you are tested and are found to have drugs in your system, your case is not lost yet. The tests can determine whether or not your had legal or illegal drugs in your body, but it cannot determine at what time you ingested the drugs or at what time the drugs impaired you, if at all. For example, marijuana can stay in your system for up to 30 days even though it only affects you for a couple of hours. A seasoned DWI attorney can use this fact to build a strong defense for your case. Even more, the test must be administered by a certified drug recognition expert (DRE). If your test was not conducted by a DRE, the evidence can be thrown out altogether.
The penalties for a drug DWI are the same as a normal DWI and become more severe with each subsequent offense. New Jersey takes DWI cases very seriously and dismissal and downgrade are very difficult. It is imperative that you have an attorney capable of handling a DWI case by your side. Many attorneys handle DWI cases but not many of them have the requisite experience to formulate a comprehensive defense. The attorney’s at the Law Offices of Jef Henninger, Esq. have the experience necessary to see a DWI case all the way from arrest to disposition. Call today for a free initial consultation.