Breaking News Update: NJ Governor Takes Major Action to Improve Access to Medical Marijuana

Medical marijuana and a doctor's prescription

This past week, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy took a large step in the direction of legitimizing medical marijuana and increasing access across the state. Under previous Governor Chris Christie, New Jersey’s technically legal medical marijuana program was significantly handicapped. Chris Christie vocally opposed the program and explicitly proclaimed that he would not work to expand access to medicinal marijuana in any way, and, under his governance, it was difficult, if not impossible, for most individuals to obtain cannabis legally.

Since Governor Phil Murphy took office earlier this year, he made it clear that legalizing marijuana would be one of his top priorities. This week’s actions do not make marijuana fully legal, but it does make it easier for individuals to get a prescription for marijuana based on medical need, and then have that prescription filled at dispensaries located across the state.

As previously addressed here on the Edward M. Janzekovich law blog, legal possession of marijuana will not affect the fact that it is, and will continue to be, illegal to drive under the effects of marijuana or THC, the active ingredient in the marijuana plant. New Jersey’s DUI/DWI laws still make it illegal to drive while intoxicated or high, whether that intoxication or high is the result of using a legal or illegal substance, including medically prescribed drugs.

Changes to the Medical Marijuana Program

In January, Governor Murphy signed an executive order, calling on the New Jersey Department of Health to review the existing state program. This past week, the Governor announced a list of reforms that would be implemented based on this review.

These changes include:

  1. Adding five new qualifying medical conditions, including two types of chronic pain, migraines, anxiety, and Tourette’s syndrome;
  2. Decreasing registration fees for the program (decreased from $200 to $100, or lower for veterans and seniors);
  3. Permitting the six state approved dispensaries to create additional locations to better serve the increased number of program participants;
  4. Increasing the monthly permissible dosage from 2 ounces to 4 ounces;
  5. Permitting hospice patients to have an unlimited supply; and
  6. Eliminating the requirement that doctors put their names on a registry in order to prescribe medical marijuana.

These measures only account for one part of Governor Murphy’s whole plan for the future of cannabis in New Jersey. At the present, 18,574 patients, 536 physicians, and 869 caregivers are involved in the program, but the just-announced changes should increase access for thousands more. The Coalition for Medical Marijuana New Jersey anticipates that the end goal for the program would be to meet the demands of about 1 million patients.

Marijuana Impairment and Driving While Intoxicated

Although many of these changes will help pave the way for New Jersey residents to legally qualify for and obtain marijuana, this will not affect laws affecting driving while high – under the influence of THC or cannabis.

First, New Jersey statute, N.J.S.A. 39:4-49.1, states that you cannot drive a motor vehicle while in possession of any prescription medications unless you have obtained the substance or drug directly from an approved medical provider or with a valid prescription. Moreover, even if you are allowed to have it, New Jersey law does not allow any person to drive while impaired, regardless of whether or not he or she is intoxicated because of a legally prescribed or obtained medication. This means that it will not be a defense if you are part of the medical marijuana program if the state can prove that using cannabis has affected your ability to drive substantively.

Finally, it is important to note that New Jersey’s medical marijuana law does not allow persons with an out-of-state medical marijuana license to possess marijuana in the state without also having a New Jersey medical marijuana license.

Accordingly, it is important to remember that driving and using marijuana is still illegal and driving while intoxicated as the result of any substance in the state will be treated seriously and likely prosecuted, in the same way the government would treat you if you were arrested for driving drunk.

Edward M. Janzekovich Can Defend You if You Are Charged with Driving While High

If you or someone you know is charged for driving while intoxicated, drunk driving, or driving high, the possible penalties will be serious. Fighting those charges will not be easy. Finding a good attorney will be really important and can make all the difference. To speak with an experienced New Jersey DWI/DUI lawyer about your situation, call us at 732-257-1137 or contact us online today. We serve clients throughout the state of New Jersey.

Snowplow Driver and Commercial License DUI

Snowplow on City Street

Last week’s snow storm was (hopefully) the last of the 2018 Winter season and even marked the first day of Spring. Although the weather is starting to change and get nicer, there are some events that occurred over the last few months that could still affect us moving forward. Unfortunately, that includes the consequences of any arrests for driving while intoxicated or under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. The penalties for being found guilty of DUI/WI or Refusal to Submit to a Breathalyzer test can be devastating for any driver, especially for commercial drivers.

In the past, the Edward M. Janzekovich law blog has discussed issues that affect commercial drivers, including drivers in industries such as trucking and transportation. A recent series of events in New Jersey highlights the fact that commercial drivers in other jobs, such as snowplow drivers, can be affected by the increased strictness regarding drunk driving for commercial drivers. However, the legal issues are even more complicated when a commercial license is involved. An experienced attorney will be able to review your specific situation and may be able to help keep you from losing your commercial license.

Commercial Licenses and Legal Limit

There are many vehicles that can require a commercial license for use. These include expected vehicles such as tractor-trailers and buses and generally require Class A or Class B commercial licenses to driver. Other vehicles, such as snow plows, can become a commercial vehicle in certain circumstances, particularly if they are being used in a commercial capacity through a public or government contract. A Class C commercial license specifically includes:

  • If the vehicle is operated by, or under contract with, a public or governmental agency, or religions or other charitable organization or corporation, or is privately operated, and is used for the transportation of children to or from a school, school-connected activity, day camp, summer day camp, summer residence camp, nursery school, child care center, preschool center or other similar places of education.

In New Jersey, if a commercial driver has a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of .04% or higher, this is sufficient for a drunk driving charge while the driver is operating a commercial vehicle. If the same driver is only using a personal vehicle when he or she is pulled over, then the normal .08% BAC limit will apply.

New Jersey Snowplow Driver and Multiple Charges

Recently, a New Jersey commercial snowplow driver was found to be operating his truck with a BAC above the .04% BAC limit for commercial drivers. This was his fourth charge for driving drunk. Normally, he would have already lost his commercial license forever, possibly losing the ability to earn a living and provide for his family and loved ones. Under the New Jersey MVC commercial driver’s license violations rules, a first conviction for drunk driving results in a one-year commercial driver’s license suspension, in addition to any other penalties. A second conviction results in a permanent loss of the commercial driver’s license, in addition to other consequences.

However, two of the driver’s previous arrests occurred over 10 and 15 years ago. An attorney could successfully argue that these past convictions occurred before the driver ever obtained his commercial driver’s license and could not count against his allowed convictions.

Unfortunately, the two newest charges are still currently pending. It is possible that the driver will lose his commercial license if he is convicted on both counts. The matters are still being investigated.

New Jersey Commercial Drunk Driving Lawyer Edward M. Janzekovich Can Help When Your Job is On the Line

A conviction for drinking and driving can mean the difference between having a job and losing the ability to earn a living. If you or someone you know is arrested, charged, or convicted of drunk driving, you want an attorney who will fight for you. A good lawyer can make all the difference. To speak with an experienced New Jersey DWI lawyer about your situation, call us at 732-257-1137 or contact us online today. We serve clients in Ocean County, Monmouth County, Mercer County, Middlesex County, Union County and Somerset County.

The 60-Day “Rule” and Common Misconceptions About It

olice officer holding a pen and doing a field sobriety test

In New Jersey, there is something called the 60-day rule for New Jersey DWI cases. Many years ago, the New Jersey administrative office of the courts issued an administrative order requiring municipal courts to conclude DWI cases within 60 days from the date the ticket was filed in the court. Does this mean that you can have your case dismissed if it is not concluded within 60 days of you getting a ticket? In reality, probably not.

Since this order was issued, the Courts have determined that 60 days is not a realistic time period within which to resolve a DWI charge. Understandably, the notion of a 60-day rule can lead to many misconceptions about how your case can be dismissed if the court doesn’t resolve it in that time period. All things considered, the 60-day “rule” is more like a guideline.

Notably, the New Jersey Supreme Court discussed the unrealistic time limitation the 60 days rule sets for DWI cases. The Court explained that when DWI cases are appropriately handled, there are many technical defenses that sometimes require the case to take 90 or more days to resolve. This is why it is important to consult an experienced DUI / DWI attorney when facing a charge of driving under the influence. An experienced attorney will know how long the discovery process (getting all of the information and evidence) will likely take, take the time to appropriately build a solid defense, and ensure the best possible result for you – which is likely to take more than 60 days. If the government does take longer than the law permits, a good lawyer will know and may even be able to have your case thrown out completely.

How a Case Proceeds Through Municipal Court

To get a better understanding of how the 60-day rule actually works, its important to understand how a drunk driving case typically moves through municipal court. Once a defense attorney or public defender receives a case, the discovery period begins. Discovery is the process under which the evidence in the case is provided for the defense. This will include the police reports, video evidence, breath tests and other vital information that will help determine the driver’s fate. When an attorney makes a request for discovery, it is possible that all of the items requested will not be provided. This may require a defense attorney to file a motion to compel the prosecution to provide the requested evidence, thus delaying the case. If the court agrees with the motion and gives a date by which the discovery must be handed over, and that date passes, the defense can request a dismissal of the case.

If everything is provided and nothing is preventing the case from moving forward, it is then that rules regarding timing come into play. A defendant is entitled to a “speedy trial” and if a case is moving slowly without any good reason, this too can be grounds for a defense lawyer to request a dismissal of the case, but this is on a case-by-case basis, and will require a greater lapse of time. While some courts do try to stick to the 60-day guideline, this can often come at the expense of proper litigation and can negatively affect the case. The defense may not have adequate time to investigate the case, talk with any witnesses, analyze all of the evidence, speak with experts, etc.

However, if there is an unreasonable delay of your case without good cause and 60 days have passed, then a knowledgeable attorney will be able to work to compel the court to get the case moving. That is why it is imperative to speak with an experienced and savvy DWI/DUI defense attorney when faced with charges for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, especially if you feel nothing has been happening with your case for quite some time.

New Jersey DUI / DWI Attorney Edward M. Janzekovich Can Defend You if You Are Charged with Driving Under the Influence or Driving While Intoxicated

If you or someone you know is charged with driving under the influence or driving while intoxicated, it is extremely important to contact an experienced DUI / DWI attorney who can explain your rights to you and vigorously defend you. If you go to court, an experienced lawyer can also make sure you get the best result possible or may even be able to have the charges against you dismissed entirely. A great attorney can make all the difference. To speak with an experienced New Jersey DWI/DUI lawyer about your situation, call us at 732-257-1137 or contact us online today. We serve clients throughout the state of New Jersey.

Post-Conviction Relief in DUI Cases

Man with drink and keys getting in a car.

In New Jersey, a conviction for driving while intoxicated is serious. No matter where you live, how old you are, or your current circumstances, charges for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol can carry life-changing consequences. Drivers are often arrested for DUI/DWI, subsequently charged, and then can be found guilty after trial or can plead guilty to the charges, resulting in a conviction.

If you have recently been convicted of DWI it may feel hopeless and like you have no other options. However, that is where we, at the law firm of Edward M. Janzekovich come in. In certain circumstances, you may actually be able to get some relief from your drunk driving conviction, even if the trial is over or if you have already plead guilty. As a trained and experienced DUI/DWI attorney, Edward M. Janzekovich is well-versed in the area of Post-Conviction Relief and may be able to help you.

What is Post-Conviction Relief?

An application for post-conviction relief (PCR) is an attempt by a driver who has been convicted for DUI/DWI to ask the court to have that conviction erased. This generally returns a defendant to his/her respective pre-conviction position in the eyes of the court. There are few applications that can be made in municipal court that have as much usefulness in the defense of a drunk driving case as an application for PCR. Frequently, a PCR application is the only possible way of saving a defendant from a long jail term or the loss of driving privileges that may last for decades.

When are Applications for Post-Conviction Relief Made?

Generally speaking, PCR applications in drunk driving cases arise in two types of cases. First, when a defendant has been charged with a drunk driving offense that constitutes a second or third offense for sentencing purposes, a successful PCR application may permit the sentencing judge to ignore one of the defendant’s prior offense. This means that a third-time offender may be sentenced as only a second-time offender and a second-time offender may be sentenced as a first-time offender. The difference in sentencing can extremely important under the law, as subsequent offenses carry much harsher penalties.

The second type of case where a PCR application is helpful occurs when the defendant has been charged with driving on the revoked list in violation of N.J.S.A. 39:3-40. Typically, when the underlying reason for a defendant’s license suspension stems from a drunk driving or refusal to take a breathalyzer test conviction, he or she is subject to enhanced penalties like additional license suspension and a mandatory jail term. A defendant facing such consequences can use a PCR application in an effort to vacate the underlying drunk driving conviction, and therefore avoid those additional sentencing enhancements.

Additionally, an application for PCR can also be used when trying to re-license a defendant who cannot afford to pay the motor vehicle surcharges required by a DUI/DWI conviction. A defendant who can successfully vacate a drunk driving conviction through a PCR application will be excused from paying those surcharges to the Motor Vehicle Commission.

How to File an Application for Post-Conviction Relief

The rules for filing an application for PCR can be extremely confusing. For that reason, we always advise that you contact an experienced drunk driving lawyer as soon as you can if you or a loved one has been arrested, charged, or convicted of DUI/DWI. An attorney will know if there are grounds for filing a PCR application in your case or if there are other options that can be used to appeal your case first.

Furthermore, there are strict time limitations and procedural requirements that must be followed in order to have a chance at having a PCR application granted. Typically, an application for post-conviction relief must be filed within five years after the entry of judgment of conviction or the imposition of the defendant’s sentence, although the five-year deadline can be relaxed in two circumstances. First, when the application is made based upon the assertion that the defendant’s sentence was illegal. In this scenario, there is no deadline for when you can file a PCR application. Second, if the defendant can show that the reason he/she did not file the application within the five-year deadline was based on excusable neglect (things like if the defendant was not represented at trial or was unaware of his/her rights at trial) then the court can still hear the application.

New Jersey DUI/DWI Attorney Edward M. Janzekovich Can Help Even if You Have Already Been Convicted

If you have been charged or convicted of DWI/DUI, refusal to submit to a breath test, or driving with a restricted license, you could be facing serious penalties – jail time, heavy fines, and loss of license – that can seriously affect your ability to care and provide for yourself or your loved ones. Whether you have just been arrested or if you have already plead guilty, it is extremely important to contact an experienced attorney who can explain what rights you have. A good lawyer can make all the difference. To speak with an experienced New Jersey DWI lawyer about your situation, call us at 732-257-1137 or contact us online today. We serve clients in Ocean County, Monmouth County, Mercer County, Middlesex County, Union County and Somerset County.

What to Do When You Have Been Stopped by the Police—Part One

Ways to Safely and Effectively Respond to a Traffic Stop

Stopped-by-the-Police

It’s one of those things that almost always puts a lump in your throat, whether you’ve never been pulled over or you’ve been charged on a number of occasions with drinking and driving—when you see the blue flashing lights behind you. The police generally have some discretion—you might get a ticket, but you might escape with a warning—and a lot of what happens can be based on how you initially respond. Here are some guidelines for helping minimize the negative ramifications of being pulled over.

Pull Off the Road as Soon as You Can Do So Safely

You want to pull over as soon as possible, but only in ways that will be safe for you and the officer. If you’re on a narrow and busy road, the officer will likely appreciate if you wait to pull into a parking lot or turn off. In addition, you don’t want to slam on the brakes or cut across traffic to get to the shoulder.

Many people incorrectly assume that, by pulling over quickly, you’re acknowledging that you’ve broken the law. To the contrary, it will likely indicate to the officer that you were paying attention to the road.

Obey All Traffic Laws and Signs

If you’re changing lanes or turning into a parking lot, use your turn signal. Make certain you stop at all lights or signs, and don’t make an illegal turn just to get off the road. If you do pull over to the shoulder of the road, go as far to the right as you safely can, so that the officer can come to the driver’s side without being on the road.

Contact Attorney Edward M. Janzekovich

To schedule a free initial consultation, contact my office online or call me at 732-257-1137. Evening and weekend consultations are available by appointment. I accept all major credit cards.

Hunterdon County’s New Central Booking Program for Those Arrested on Suspicion of Drunk Driving

empty beer bottle and car key behind bars

Here at the Edward M. Janzekovich law blog, we make it our job to pay attention to all new developments in New Jersey drunk driving news. One of those changes set to occur in the near future could drastically affect anyone arrested in Hunterdon County on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol or other intoxicating substances.

Beginning next month, those arrested in Hunterdon County for driving while intoxicated will automatically be taken to the Hunterdon County Justice Center. This means that if you are arrested for DUI or DWI in New Jersey, the process may soon change depending on where you live. The days of going to the local police department nearby, it seems, could be a thing of the past.

The New Program

Developed by the Hunterdon Sheriff Fred Brown and the county’s Police Chiefs Association with guidance from Hunterdon Prosecutor Anthony P. Kearns, III, the Hunterdon County will soon be pioneering a new type of program, creating a central booking system for all drunk driving arrestees at the county Justice Center. The county indicated on February 6th that the program and location should be up and running in about a month.

This new booking program is simultaneously aimed at getting drunk drivers off the road and putting more cops on the streets. Essentially, the program allows local officers around the county to transport suspected drunk drivers to the central location for testing, rather than to each municipality’s local police department.

More Officers Patrolling the Roads

Importantly, the program sets up corrections officers that will be available to secure those who have been identified as drunk until someone picks them up at the county Justice Center. New Jersey’s John’s Law currently mandates that police impound a drunk driver’s car for 12 hours, meaning someone else needs to pick up the drunk driver from the station. Notably, John’s law also establishes potential criminal liability for anyone who picks up an arrested drunk driver, and then allows them to drive again while still intoxicated. With these corrections officers on duty, the local police officers who make the arrest will be able to quickly resume their patrols, rather than staying with the arrestee, meaning it may become more difficult for anyone on New Jersey’s roads to get away with drunk driving.

Only Two Alcotest Machines for the Whole County

Alcotest machines are the breath test machines New Jersey uses to measure the Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) in someone’s blood. According to the county, two new Alcotest machines will be placed at central booking. The dedicated machines and central booking will be available to all Hunterdon police departments and State Police. They may use central booking as their primary test machine, or as a backup should their machine be made unavailable.

What This May Mean for Those Arrested on Suspicion of Drunk Driving

The new program will likely eliminate the need for the county to purchase new, updated versions of Alcotest machines for each town or city, when the technology is upgraded. This is expected to occur in the near future, as the New Jersey State Government has directed that the current Drager Alcotest 7110 machines be replaced by local Police Departments some time before 2019. This update is an important change that will take place in the near future, and it is something we have been following closely here on the Edward M. Janzekovich law blog.

Moreover, New Jersey has strict laws and guidelines regarding Alcotest machines and the processing of those suspected of drunk driving, whether it is at a local police station or a central booking location. This new program will make it easier for the state to maintain its systems and keep all machines calibrated and in working order. For anyone suspected of drinking and driving, this means it will become even more difficult to defend against those charges or have those charges dismissed.

For these reasons, we always say it is important to consult an experienced DUI/DWI attorney to understand the rights and the options available to you, as soon as you or someone you know is charged with driving under the influence.

New Jersey DUI/DWI Attorney Edward M. Janzekovich Can Defend You if You Are Charged with Driving Under the Influence or Driving While Intoxicated

If you or someone you know is charged with driving under the influence or driving while intoxicated, it is extremely important to contact an experienced DUI/DWI attorney who can explain your rights to you and vigorously defend you. If you go to court, an experienced lawyer can also make sure you get the best result possible and can make all the difference. To speak with an experienced New Jersey DWI/DUI lawyer about your situation, call us at 732-257-1137 or contact us online today. We serve clients throughout the state of New Jersey.

When Can the Police Search Your Vehicle after a Traffic Stop?

Understanding Your Constitutional Rights

Police Search Your Vehicle

A law enforcement officer has pulled you over while driving, asked a few questions and then requested that you get out of the car, so that a search can be conducted. Can you refuse? Does the officer need a warrant? What are your rights and what should you do?

Your 4th Amendment Rights

Pursuant to the 4th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, citizens have the right to be free from unreasonable searches or seizures. To be reasonable, a search must be based either on probable cause or on a warrant, which also requires a showing of probable cause. The fact that you were pulled over for speeding, reckless driving or some other moving violation is not, in and of itself, probable cause sufficient to justify a search of your vehicle.

The officer may, however, find probable cause based on the circumstances:

  • If there is evidence of illegal conduct in plain view—drug paraphernalia, open containers of alcohol, or stolen merchandise, that may be enough to justify a search.
  • If you engage in other behavior that indicates illegal activity, or that you may be hiding something—If you are slurring your word, your breath smells of alcohol, you keep looking at a certain part of the vehicle or refuse to look the officer in the eye, it may indicate that you are either under the influence or you’re hiding something

Furthermore, if the officer actually arrests you (issuing you a traffic citation does not constitute an arrest), the officer may conduct a limited search to obtain evidence to support the arrest or to protect his or her safety.

Contact Attorney Edward M. Janzekovich

To schedule an appointment with an experienced New Jersey DUI defense attorney, contact my office online or call me at 732-257-1137. There is no cost or obligation for your first meeting. Evening and weekend consultations are available by appointment. I accept all major credit cards.

New Legislation Making It Illegal to Fly a Drone While Intoxicated

Pilot running drone at sunset

Here on the Edward M. Janzekovich law blog, we have discussed such topics as intoxicated driving, drunk driving, and drunk operation as it applies to cars, trucks, boats, trains, motorcycles, bicycles, construction vehicles, and heavy machinery. Considering all the laws in New Jersey against operation while intoxicated, it will probably come as no surprise that a new law will be adding drones to the list.

With new technological advances occurring every day, new and more complicated laws usually will follow. One popular technological advance requiring regulation has been the invention of the drone – remote controlled flying devices that range in value from $15 to the tens of thousands of dollars. Drones are becoming more and more a part of our everyday lives, both in personal and professional usage. Drones often include expensive high definition camera and video capabilities, but can be used for other purposes, too. Amazon, for example, along with many other companies, has invested huge sums of money in an effort to make drone delivery a reality. Likewise, hundreds of thousands of children recently unwrapped drones at Christmas that will soon be flying around.

While the law is pretty firm when it comes to drunk driving, and the consequences clear, the consequences of operating a drone drunk had previously been unclear, until now. New Jersey State legislators approved a bill that would make it illegal to fly a drone under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The Bill is not yet law, and will require approval by the Governor.

New Bill Recently Passed by New Jersey Legislature

In an effort to begin regulating just what can and cannot be done with a drone, a measure was recently passed through the New Jersey legislature that makes it a disorderly person’s offense for someone with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or more to operate a drone – the same as per se intoxication for driving a car. You can also be penalized for flying a drone while intoxicated on prescription or illegal drugs.

A conviction would carry a sentence of up to six months in prison or a $1,000 or both – varying from the penalties for drunk driving or drunk boating, which are more serious with significant fines, jail time, loss of driving privileges, and more. There are also similar penalties for the use of drones to illegally aid in hunting. Finally, the legislation also prohibits the flying of drones near correctional facilities.

This measure marks the first statewide bill addressing drone usage in New Jersey. However, the National Conference of State Legislatures reports at least 38 states are considering new such laws, including many in our area such as Pennsylvania, Maryland, New York, and South Carolina. Already, nine states prohibit drones from operating near or over prisons, including Arizona, Louisiana, Nevada, North Carolina, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin, Essex said.

“Like any technology, drones have the ability to be used for good, but they also provide new opportunities for bad actors,” said Assemblywoman Annette Quijano of Elizabeth, New Jersey. She backed the bill punishing drunk drone flying in New Jersey.

New Jersey DUI/DWI Attorney Edward M. Janzekovich Can Defend You If You are Charged with Operation While Intoxicated

If you or someone you know is charged with driving under the influence or driving while intoxicated, whether in a car, boat, or other vehicle, it is extremely important to contact an experienced DUI/DWI attorney who can explain your rights to you and vigorously defend you. If you go to court, an experienced lawyer can also make sure you get the best result possible and can make all the difference. To speak with an experienced New Jersey DWI/DUI lawyer about your situation, call us at 732-257-1137 or contact us online today. We serve clients throughout the state of New Jersey.

Federal Lawsuit Raises Questions about the Reliability of Drug Recognition Experts (DREs) in DUI cases

Police officer placing a female driver under arrest.

A recent federal lawsuit is shining a light on so called Drug Recognition Experts (DREs), and aiming to raise questions about whether or not DREs are truly able to identify signs of intoxication or if their tactics are fake science and no more effective in the field than guessing or bias.

Drug Recognition Experts (DREs)

As we have discussed previously in the Edward M. Janzekovich law blog, there is currently no technology that would allow a police officer to quickly determine whether or not a driver has been driving under the influence of many drugs. Unlike in the case of alcohol intoxication, there is no “breathalyzer” that can reliably test for blood alcohol level when it comes to many drugs and intoxication.

A DRE is a police officer who has special training in identifying if someone is under the influence of drugs, what kind of drugs they are on, and whether their ability to drive has been impaired or not – whether or not they are driving high. DREs are certified in tactics that are supposed to be especially designed to allow the officers to identify when someone is under the influence of drugs such as marijuana, for which intoxication tests do not currently exist.

There are seven (7) categories of drugs that a drug recognition expert is trained to detect — Central Nervous System Depressants, Inhalants, Dissociative Anesthetics, Cannabis, Central Nervous System Stimulants, Hallucinogens and Narcotic Analgesics. Notably, their evaluations are done through a visual assessment of the driver, known as the “12-step DRE protocol”.

The Story Behind the Federal Lawsuit

Katelyn Ebner, a 23-year-old Georgia resident was recently pulled over by a police officer named Tracy Carroll, who is a DRE. Ebner was originally pulled over for failing to maintain her lane of traffic, when Carroll decided that Ebner was under the influence of marijuana, based on his observations. Ebner was adamant that she did not smoke marijuana and offered to take a drug test to prove it. However, no such test exists. Moreover, since Carroll was a DRE, there was no need for a drug test because, to put it simply, he is considered the drug test. Ebner was then arrested, charged with DUI, taken to jail, and given a blood test.

The following conversation was recorded:

Katelyn Ebner: “Sir, I can promise you, I have never — please — I have never smoked marijuana.”
Officer Carroll: “Okay. Well, ma’am, you’re giving me indicators — several, several indicators — that you have, okay?”
Katelyn Ebner: “Okay, so when I do a drug test, I’ll be free to go, correct?”
Officer Carroll: “You’re going to jail, ma’am. Okay? I don’t have a magical drug test that I can give you right now.”

Ebner’s blood tests ultimately came back clean, and charges against her were eventually dropped.

Ebner is now one of three plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit who were all pulled over by Carroll for failing to maintain their lane of traffic and then all deemed to be under the influence of marijuana by Carroll. All of them were then immediately arrested and spent a night in jail. In every case, the DUI charges were eventually dropped after blood tests showed no trace of marijuana in the citizens’ blood.

Goals of the Lawsuit

The ACLU of Georgia, representing the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, claim that Officer Carroll used a “watered-down version” of the 12-step protocol utilized by DREs. They note that “Carroll’s pattern and practice of enforcing DUI-drug infractions…was to arrest an individual based on nothing more than a hunch[.]” Furthermore, they claim that the protocol itself is flawed based on discredited studies and because it irresponsibly entrusts police officers with performing what are essentially scientific and medical tests.

Importantly, the lawsuit also asserts that all the plaintiffs felt they had no choice but to submit to drug tests, especially after Carroll told them that state law required them to do so and that their driver’s licenses would be suspended if they refused, therefore their consent to the tests was not genuine. Additionally, since there was no warrant, the blood tests given to them violated the Fourth Amendment’s ban on unreasonable searches and seizures. New Jersey law only requires a person to supply a breath test, which cannot test for any substance other than alcohol.

If the lawsuit is successful, it could call into question stops and arrests like this that are made across the country every day, and could result in new standards for when a police officer is permitted to arrest a driver based on the suspicion of driving while high. Until that time, however, there are still many ways to challenge an arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs in New Jersey. If you or someone you know is ever arrested or charged with DUI or DWI, it is important to contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible. A good lawyer will be able to review the circumstances of your case and determine if the police officers acted appropriately, including whether he or she had probable cause to subject you to a drug test in the first place.

New Jersey DUI Attorney Edward M. Janzekovich Can Explain and Fight for Your Rights

Because defending against charges of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol can be very complicated, it is important to get an experienced DUI/DWI attorney in any situation where you or someone you know is charged. If you are charged with driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol in New Jersey, an experienced DWI/DUI attorney can make all the difference. To speak with an experienced New Jersey DWI lawyer about your situation, call us at 732-257-1137 or contact us online today. We serve clients throughout the state of New Jersey.

International Travel Restrictions If You’ve Ever Been Convicted of Drunk Driving

Trip planning items.

Are you thinking of traveling somewhere out of the country this holiday season or at any time in the future? Unfortunately, you may need to change your plans if you or someone you expect to travel with has a past DUI or DWI conviction. In addition to the numerous other severe penalties imposed on someone who is found guilty of drunk driving, a driver who is convicted can also be denied entry into certain countries simply because they had a DUI or DWI at some point in the past.

Travel restrictions can be an extremely important consideration for certain individuals, such as those who need to travel for work. Unfortunately, not being able to enter certain countries because of a past conviction is just one more thing that can make life more difficult for any driver who is caught driving drunk. This is in addition to the other penalties that can occur, which we frequently discuss here on the Edward M. Janzekovich law blog, such as severe fines, jail time, and loss of driving privileges. For some individuals, these penalties can mean the difference between being able to go to work or not being able to care for family members and loved ones.

Because a DUI/DWI conviction can have such life-changing consequences, we always recommend that drivers exhibit extreme caution when drinking. If you are pulled-over or arrested for drunk driving, it is important that you consult an experienced attorney as soon as possible. Even if you have already plead guilty to DWI or have been convicted, it is still possible for a lawyer to help in certain situations and have that conviction overturned.

Crossing the Canadian Border with a Past DUI or DWI Conviction

For New Jersey residents looking to travel abroad, Canada is often one of the closest and easiest choices. However, many people do not know that Canada has extremely strict border policies regarding travel into the country by non-Canadian citizens who have had a DUI conviction at any time in the past. The Canadian government reserves the right to bar any person from entering the country if they have ever plead or been found guilty of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This is because Canada considers driving while intoxicated to be a serious offense, similar to a felony, even though it is treated differently in New Jersey. The official policy is: “Americans with a DUI record must seek a waiver of exclusion from Canadian authorities before traveling to Canada, which requires several weeks or months to process.”

Although having a past DUI does not mean you will definitely be turned away when visiting our Northern neighbor, there is a good chance that you will be turned away if you have a recent conviction. The border officers have a lot of leeway in deciding when to allow individuals in and when to turn individuals away. Border officials may be more lenient if an individual’s conviction is more than 10 years old, although there is no guarantee that such an individual will be permitted entry.

Furthermore, it does not matter if a person is trying to enter Canada by car, boat, plane or train – or what they will be doing in the country. There are well-known stories of Americans being denied entry even when traveling to Canada by ferry on a sight-seeing daytrip.

Finally, Canada is able to easily determine when an individual has had a past conviction because Canada is the only country that shares complete information with the United States regarding criminal databases, meaning that Canadian border agents have complete access to all criminal records. For this reason, it is especially important to be honest and not lie when discussing any past convictions with Canadian border agents.

Other Countries Where a DWI Conviction Can Affect Travel

In addition to Canada, there are a number of other countries where past DWI convictions may bar entry. Generally, travel into countries that are part of the European Union will not be affected. However, travel to certain Asian countries – such as China, Malaysia, and Japan – and countries in the Middle East.

Because these policies are country specific and subject to change at any time, it is important for you to specifically research the policies governing your intended travel destination. In some cases, you may even want to contact an immigration official to find out more information.

What Can You Do About a Past DUI/ DWI Conviction

If you have been convicted of drunk driving in the past, and now feel you need to have that conviction cleared from your record, it is important that you contact a knowledgeable attorney immediately. A good attorney will be able to review all of the facts and circumstances surrounding your past DWI case. The DUI lawyer will then be able to inform you about your options. In certain circumstances, the attorney may be able to file an appeal or make a motion to overturn the past conviction.

If you are in a situation where a past conviction – no matter how old – is preventing you from traveling, working, or being eligible for a job, this can often be the only way to change how that conviction affects your ability to live your life.

New Jersey DUI/DWI Lawyer Edward M. Janzekovich Can Help if You Have Been Arrested, Charged, or Convicted of Drunk Driving

If you have been convicted of drunk driving, you could face penalties that affect all aspects of your life. Some drivers deal with the penalties associated with DUI/DWI for the rest of their lives. For that reason, if you or someone you know has a DWI/DUI related issue or question, it is extremely important to contact an experienced DUI/DWI attorney immediately. A good drunk driving lawyer can make all the difference. To speak with an experienced New Jersey DWI/DUI lawyer about your situation, call us at 732-257-1137 or contact us online today. We serve clients throughout the state of New Jersey.