New Marijuana Search Case, State v. Mendel

Marijuana arrest

In a new case decide earlier this month, the New Jersey Appellate Division ruled that a police officer did nothing wrong after sticking his head inside of an open car window while speaking to the driver, even if this allowed him to discover evidence of marijuana usage inside. In doing so, he did not violate the 4th Amendment rules regarding search and seizures. Typically, a police officer would need reasonable suspicion that a crime is being committed before he can conduct a search. However, the police officer in this case only put his head in the window because he could not hear the driver over the noise of traffic.

This is important because evidence obtained in a search could lead to charges for driving under the influence of marijuana or other drugs – if a police officer observes drugs or signs of drug use in a vehicle, the officer might believe that the driver is intoxicated while driving. With the laws in New Jersey changing to make it easier to obtain legal marijuana in the future, this is an extremely important development, as the number of drivers who may be driving in possession of marijuana is expected to go up, and this could lead to police bring DUI charges against drivers more easily.

State v. Stephen Mendel

In State v. Stephen Mendel, a police officer pulled a vehicle over after observing it drive by with dark tinted windows. The police officer came up on the passenger side of the vehicle to talk with the driver. The officer asked the driver to produce his driver’s license and inquired about his driving record. During the conversation, the police officer leaned his head into the open passenger side window in order to hear better. While speaking to defendant, he smelled the odor of marijuana coming from inside the vehicle.

The defendant-driver argued that police officer’s actions should be considered a warrantless search, and the search was unreasonable, which would mean that the evidence was inadmissible and had to be thrown out of the case. The New Jersey Appellate Division decided that a driver does have a legitimate expectation of privacy on the interior of his vehicle. However, even if this is considered a search, the 4th Amendment only protects from unreasonable search and seizures. Because the officer’s act of putting his head inside the vehicle to hear better was still reasonable, the evidence could be admitted as part of the case.

The driver was charged with the disorderly persons offense of marijuana possession, N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10(a)(4), and improper safety glass, N.J.S.A. 39:3-75.

State v. Bealor

Although the driver in State v. Stephen Mendel was not charged with DUI or DWI, it is possible that these same circumstances could lead to more drivers being charged with driving under the influence of marijuana in the future. In State v. Bealor, a case from 2006, the New Jersey Supreme Court determined that the government can use circumstantial evidence to determine that a driver is operating a vehicle while intoxicated due to marijuana. Proofs in the Bealor case included the smell of burnt marijuana on defendant. Therefore, based on these two cases, police officers may be more likely to bring charges for DUI in the future, if the Courts are more willing to consider these kinds of searches as reasonable.

How an Attorney Can Help

If you or someone you know is charged with DUI or DWI as the result of drugs or alcohol, the circumstances surrounding the arrest and charges will be very important. A good attorney will analyze every aspect of the facts in your case in order to determine if the police officers acted legally and responsibly in bringing the charges against you. If an officer does violate the 4th Amendment and commits an unreasonable search and seizure, or otherwise investigates you in a way that is not allowed by the law, any evidence obtained could be excluded from the case. For instance, observations that lead to a charge for drunk driving or driving under the influence could be deemed inadmissible. This could lead to the charges against you being thrown out or dismissed completely.

New Jersey DUI Attorney Edward M. Janzekovich Will Fight to Protect Your Rights

If you or someone you know has been arrested, charged, or convicted for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you need a good lawyer to review the case. An experienced attorney will be able to review the facts and decide if any of your rights have been violated or if you’re entitled to a dismissal. 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 throughout the state of New Jersey.

Military-Civilian Drunk Driving Considerations…As Well as DUI in a Tank

M-1 Abrams tank

If you are currently serving in the military, whether on Active Duty, Reserve, or National Guard, you probably understand that your actions in civilian life can easily affect what happens to you in your service, and also vice versa. At the same time, many of our nation’s servicemen and women have not taken the time to consider the specific consequences of something like getting a DUI while off-duty or off-base. A recent event highlighted that very scenario.

In a story that sounds like something out of a video game, a Virginia National Guard lieutenant was recently arrested for driving under the influence of drugs after taking an armored vehicle and leading police on a 60-mile chase outside of Richmond, VA. Although the vehicle was not technically a tank because it was weaponless, many onlookers were left breathless after seeing the vehicle driving down the interstate on tank treads, with a dozen police vehicles in pursuit, like something out of a Fast and the Furious sequel.

While getting pulled over for operating a tank while intoxicated due to drugs or alcohol is unlikely to happen to you, it is not uncommon for an off-duty service member to be charged with DUI/DWI. After all, it only takes one drink for many persons to be over the legal limit of .08% blood alcohol content (BAC). If you or someone you know is in this situation, it is important to contact an experienced DUI attorney immediately. A good lawyer may be able to take your case and defend you or work with military area defense counsel (ADC) to help you take the appropriate action.

Jurisdiction for DUI Involving Active Military

One of the difficulties in addressing drunk driving for persons in some branch of the military, including the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, or National Guard, is determining who has jurisdiction for a certain charge. If an individual on active duty is charged with driving while intoxicated, it is possible that the charges will be brought in civilian court or in military courts, or that military and civilian authorities will coordinate to determine how the case will be tried. It is also possible that a DUI or DWI can result in charges brought in both courts, and being found not guilty in one does not mean you will acquitted in the other. Depending on where charges are brought, it may be necessary to have a civilian attorney, military defense counsel, or both.

Where You Are Arrested Matters

Where you are arrested for driving under the influence is probably the most important factor in determining how and where you are charged. If you are arrested on Base in New Jersey, such as at McGuire Air Force Base or Fort Dix, then you will likely face military authority. However, you can still face civilian penalties such as loss of driving privileges, loss of license, and require use of an ignition interlock device.

If the arrest occurs off-base, it is likely that you will only face criminal charges in a municipal court. Nonetheless, a conviction could carry additional consequences – more than the possible jail time, fines, and loss of driving privileges – such as administrative actions and corrective training.

If you are a civilian charged with DUI on a military installation, then you will may be required to face charges in federal court, but the court will still apply regular New Jersey law.
Regardless of the specifics of your case, dealing with DUI or DWI charges can be extremely complicated or difficult. Consulting a good lawyer is the first step in making sure that you are presenting the best possible defense in your situation.

New Jersey Drunk Driving Attorney Edward M. Janzekovich Will Work with You When You’re in Trouble

If you or someone you know is facing charges for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, there are many possible complications that could arise – especially if the case involves the military, military personnel, or is on a military base. In any scenario, you need to talk to someone who will know the best way to help. 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 throughout the state of New Jersey.

Standard Field Sobriety Test, the Walk and Turn

Field Sobriety Test

Police officers in New Jersey and in other states across the country use many tests to see if a person has been driving intoxicated. You may be familiar with some of the tests, either through personal experience or having seen them on tv, such as having a driver close his or her eyes and touch his or her nose with one finger, or reciting the alphabet backwards. While parts of these tests may help influence a police officer into believing whether a person has been driving drunk, there are only three official tests that are part of the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFST), developed and approved of by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and admissible in court:

  1. The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test
  2. The Walk and Turn
  3. The One-Leg Stand

The officers who administer these tests are trained to look for certain clues in a driver. Similar to the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test, which we previously discussed here at the Edward M. Janzekovich Law Blog, there are specific things that an officer considers signs of intoxication when it comes to the Walk and Turn test. At the same time, many of the clues are considered subjective. For that reason, it is important that you retain an experienced attorney if you are ever arrested for a DUI. A knowledgeable DUI/DWI attorney will be able to review the records and possibly identify weaknesses in the intoxication evidence to defend against it at trial or maybe even have it thrown out completely.

The Walk and Turn Test

In the walk and turn test, a driver is told to place his left foot on a line – possibly a line painted in the road or drawn by the officer – and then place his right foot in front of the left foot, touching heel to toe, one foot after another for a given number of steps. The driver must place his or her arms at his or her sides – meaning the driver cannot extend his or her arms for balance. The driver is then expected to remain in this “Instructional Position” while the police officer explains the test instructions. The driver cannot start the test until police officer states, “Begin.”

The standardized instructions are:

  • “When told to begin, you will walk nine heel to toe steps, turn, and take nine heel to toe steps back”;
  • “During the turn, keep your front foot on the line, and execute the turn by taking a series of small steps with your other foot”;
  • “While walking, keep your arms at your sides, watch your feet at all times and count out loud each step”;
  • “Do not stop until you have finished the test.”

The officer will then ask if the driver has any questions before telling the driver to begin.

What Police Officers Are Looking for When Performing the Test

When a police officer gives the test, he or she is actually watching the driver for signs of intoxication long before the officer says, “begin.” This means that the real test begins with the officer’s observations long before the driver takes his or her first step.

The officer is specifically looking to see if the driver:

  1. Keeps his or her balance at all times;
  2. Remains in the “Instruction Position” while listening to the instructions, and does not begin until instructed;
  3. Does not stop in the middle of the test;
  4. Touches heel to toe for each step;
  5. Stays on the line for all of the test;
  6. Uses his or her arms for balance, which is not permitted to be raised beyond six inches;
  7. Does the turn as instructed; and
  8. Takes the correct number of steps.

If the driver misses heel to toe once with a gap greater than 1/2 inch, the officer will check off one clue of possible intoxication for the heel-to-toe requirement.

How a Lawyer May Challenge the Walk and Turn Test

Because officers are trained to analyze a driver’s behavior, appearance, and how he or she performs on any SFST, a good lawyer can also use this same information to help in defending against a DUI/DWI conviction. Because these tests are not perfect and subject to human error, it is important to always consult an experienced lawyer if you or someone you know is charged with drunk driving. A DUI attorney may be able to fight the charges against you or have the charges dismissed completely.

New Jersey DUI/DWI Attorney Edward M. Janzekovich Is Ready to Help Drivers Charged with Drunk Driving

An arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is extremely serious, and the penalties can include fines, loss of driving privileges, and even jail time. Defending against drunk driving charges can also involve complicated evidentiary issues, especially when specific tests or scientific evidence is involved. If you are charged with drunk driving or driving under the influence of any substance 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.

Doubts About Over 20,000 Past DWI Cases Means Convictions Could Be Reversed or Thrown Out

Doubts About Over 20,000 Past DWI Cases Means Convictions Could Reversed

Here, at the Edward M. Janzekovich law blog, we have been following an important story that could affect over 20k different past drunk driving cases and/or convictions that occurred between 2008 and 2016. Specifically, in 2016, charges were filed against a State Police Sergeant after it was discovered that he may have been lying about whether or not breathalyzer machines used to measure the Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of drivers arrested for drunk driving were properly calibrated. A recent 200-page report released by the state judiciary restated the possibility that the sergeant’s actions could have affected DWI/DUI cases during that time, raising substantial doubts about the reliability of the tests conducted in five New Jersey counties.

If you or someone you know submitted to a breathalyzer test in New Jersey during that time period, you could be affected. If you pleaded guilty or were convicted of DUI/DWI based on the results of a breath test taken during that time in the state, you will want to talk to a knowledgeable DWI defense attorney as soon as possible. A conviction could be withdrawn or dismissed, the conviction could be removed from a permanent record, and/or future drunk driving penalties could be decreased.

Breathalyzer Calibration Misconduct

A BAC test in New Jersey must be performed using a Alcotest 7110 MK-IIIC machine that is calibrated according to strict guidelines. When it was discovered in 2016 that State Police Sgt. Marc Dennis may have lied about following the state-mandated guidelines for 8 years, he was officially indicted on second-degree official misconduct, third-degree tampering with public records, and fourth-degree falsifying records charges, because he deliberately skipped the temperature check portion of recalibration procedures.

Since a BAC result of .08% or higher taken during that time could have resulted in an inaccurate DWI/DUI conviction, a class action lawsuit was subsequently filed arguing that anyone who was convicted based on a close BAC result should have their guilty finding thrown out.

New 200-Page Report

The official report issued by the New Jersey state judiciary last week, written by Judge Joseph Lisa, is the latest development in this continuing saga. The report looked at many issues in the case, including the evidence against Sergeant Dennis and the importance of the legally required Alcotest calibration procedures. The report specifically found that all experts considered by the court agreed that accurate temperate calibration was important for scientific reliability.

Although Judge Lisa noted that it was not likely that Sergeant Dennis’s actions resulted in false convictions in 20,000 cases, Judge Lisa noted that it is “reasonably plausible” or possible that some defendants were affected. In particular, any driver who had a very close BAC reading, taken on an improperly calibrated machine, may have had a legal rather than illegal BAC.

Notification Letters

If you were charged and found guilty, or if you pleaded guilty, to driving while intoxicated between 2008 and 2016, you may have received a letter from prosecutors, municipalities, and government officials informing you of your rights. The Notification Letter that was sent out to defendants and drivers varied from county to county, but generally followed this format:

New Jersey DWI Notification Letter

Click to view larger version

If you have any question about what your rights are, the letter advises you to consult an attorney immediately.

If you received a letter and have any question about your rights, or if you did not receive a letter but believe you should have, you should contact an experienced drunk driving lawyer immediately. A good lawyer will also be able to review your past cases or contact the town or city where you were convicted and see if there are grounds to overturn your conviction.

New Jersey Drunk Driving Defense Lawyer Edward M. Janzekovich Stays Up to Date on DUI News that Could Affect You

If you or someone you know is arrested for drunk driving, or was previously convicted of driving while intoxicated, it is extremely important to contact an experienced DUI/DWI attorney who will make it his job to care about your case. If you go to court, a great attorney can also help you get the best results in your situation. Having a knowledgeable 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.

New “Layer Cake” Chip is a Breathalyzer for Cocaine

A man pulled over by the police

When it comes to DUI and DWI, driving while intoxicated is illegal regardless of whether you are impaired as the result of alcohol, prescription medications, or illegal narcotics. In the past, however, it was extremely difficult for police officers to specifically prove that a person was driving under the influence of something other than alcohol, because there are no legally admissible portable tests to show drug or marijuana intoxication. If drug impairment is suspected, a police officer will typically need to obtain a warrant for a blood draw or urine sample, and the results of those tests can often be challenged in court by an experienced attorney.

Soon, that may not be the case – at least when it comes to cocaine detection. A new technology being developed by the University of Buffalo may bring police officers one step closer to having a “cocaine breathalyzer.” This device will be portable, so investigating officers will supposedly be able to quickly and reliably determine if someone is driving under the influence of cocaine.

Cocaine Breathalyzer Technology

The new technology will take the form of a chip comprised of different layers performing different functions in the form of drug analysis, leading to it being called an optical layer cake. The layers would include silver, aluminum oxide, and gold nanoparticles.

The chip would be built into a handheld device that would be used to extract any existing cocaine molecules from a biological sample, such as saliva in a breath sample, that would then get deposited on top of the chip. By then exposing the chip to a laser, the handheld computer would be able to determine if the particles on the chip are a match for cocaine. The creators of the technology believe that the same principles could be applied to other drugs, such as marijuana.
Current tests show that the chip is capable of detecting cocaine within minutes of exposure – much faster than a blood or urine test – and it is also inexpensive.

When Will We See the Technology?

The paper detailing the success of the technology was only published last week, so it will be some time before police officers will be using any type of drug breathalyzer based on layer cake technology in the field. That being said, more and more companies are working on similar technology all the time – including some technologies previously covered here on the Edward M. Janzekovich law blog. In order for any new device to be implemented in New Jersey, it will need to pass rigorous testing standards. The State will also need to determine that the technology is reliable and affordable.

What This Means if You are Charged with Driving Under the Influence of Drugs

Since no drug breathalyzer exists currently, police officers in New Jersey will still be relying on blood tests and urine samples for the foreseeable future. If you or someone you know is charged with driving while intoxicated due to drugs, a good lawyer will be able to analyze the evidence against you and determine if police were justified to administering the test, if the test was properly conducted within an allowable time frame, and if the results are reliable based on numerous factors. Regardless of whether the evidence against you takes the form of old technology or new technology, an experienced attorney knows that nothing is reliable 100% of the time, and proving this in court could result in the charges against you being dismissed completely.

New Jersey DWI Attorney Edward M. Janzekovich Is Always Ready to Defend You

When it comes to driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the law and technology are always changing. If you or someone you know is arrested, you will want to talk to a who is prepared to review the evidence against you and get any inadmissible evidence thrown out. A good attorney can make a big 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.

Uber Partners with New Jersey Small Towns to Combat Drunk Driving

Person using ride sharing app

Several small South Jersey towns have come up with a novel new idea to help reduce drunk driving – they have partnered with Uber to provide free rides home from select bars to destinations within the town. It has yet to be seen how successful the programs will be, but town officials believe that if the program can even save one life, it can be considered a huge success.

Unfortunately, as of the writing of this article, the program has only been rolled out in Washington Township, Evesham, and Voorhees, in Gloucester County, Burlington County, and Camden County, respectively. Since there are over 560 other municipalities in the state of New Jersey that do no participate in any such program, other drivers in the state will need to continue to be careful when drinking in public, because even one drink can be the difference between driving legally and being convicted with driving while intoxicated. As always, we at the Edward M. Janzekovich believe that the best advice is to never drink and drive. However, if you or someone you know is arrested, charged, or convicted of DUI or DWI, you should contact a good attorney as soon as possible.

How the New Program Works

The new programs involve a partnership between the towns, Uber – a ridesharing program similar to a taxi service, and local bars enrolled in the program. For instance, in Washington Township, any resident who goes to one of the sixteen restaurants and bars involved in the program can use the Uber app to call a car and get a free ride to any location in town. The rides must originate at one of those bars and riders can only travel within city or town limits, so the program primarily benefits the residents of those towns. The free rides also are restricted to certain times and days of the week, and riders must request an UberX. When a person wants to take advantage of the program, and he or she opens up the app in one of the available locations, the upfront fare will display as $0, and the app may list the option as part of the safe rides program.

Washington Township started the program this past St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, while Evesham and Voorhees started the programs in late 2015. The programs are completely funded through private donations and local contributions, as opposed to taxpayer money.

Program Success

So far, the programs in Voorhees and Evesham have been considered a success. According to the Evesham Township Mayor, Randy Brown, over 6,000 riders have taken advantage of the program, and there has been an 80 percent decrease in the number of drunken driving arrests.

While “free taxi” programs have previously existed in some form or other in many states including New Jersey, the programs generally took advantage of travel vouchers that worked with local taxi companies. The new programs in Voorhees, Evesham, and Washington Township are considered the first of their kind to partner with Uber – the ridesharing company that was founded in 2009 and has taken the country by storm.

Washington Township, which had 114 DUI arrests in 2017, is hoping for similar results to Evesham and Voorhees.

If these programs continue to be successful in South Jersey, you can expect that other townships will soon follow suit across the state and the country. Until that time however, the best advice is to always plan to have a way home from bars and restaurants where you plan to be drinking. If you cannot find a designated driver, the expense of getting a cab, Uber, or Lyft can be significantly less than the fines, penalties, and possible jail time associated with a conviction for drunk driving.

New Jersey DWI/ DUI Lawyer Edward M. Janzekovich Is Always Ready to Help Those Arrest for Drunk Driving

A conviction for drinking and driving can have serious effects on your family and livelihood. If you have already been arrested, charged, or convicted of driving while intoxicated, you will need an experienced attorney to help fight or appeal the charges against 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 throughout the State of New Jersey.

Underage Drinking Statistics and Penalties

Underage Drinking Statistics and Penalties

A comprehensive report detailing national alcohol-impaired driving statistics for the year 2016 was recently published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), analyzing all the data that was turned into the office by public law enforcement agencies across the county. This report specifically focused on accidents and fatal crashes caused by drivers, and the data was examined based on many characteristics, including by age group and gender. The study also compared how trends have chanced over the prior ten years, looking at 2007 and 2016.

Over that time period, the number of underage drivers – drivers between the age of 16 and 20 – who were involved in a fatal crash decreased. Moreover, the number of those crashes that involved a blood alcohol content of .08% or higher also decreased, representing positive change.

Despite this decrease over time, studies continue to show that young people who drink and drive are much more likely to cause serious accidents. Furthermore, this data only included statistics for underage drivers with a BAC of .08% or higher. However, the legal drinking age is 21 years of age, in New Jersey and across the country, and a BAC of even .01% is enough to support a conviction for underage DUI or DWI, whether or not the driver is involved in a collision or crash. With prom, graduation, summer vacation, and other activities around the corner, we at the Edward M. Janzekovich law blog would like to reiterate that the best advice is to never drink and drive.

Underage Intoxicated Driving Statistics

The NHTSA report found that there were 4,412 fatal crashes in 2016 involving a driver between the ages of 16 and 20 years old. Of these, 663, or 15%, involved a BAC of .08% or higher. Across all age groups, there were 9700 fatal crashes involving a driver with a BAC of .08% or higher, meaning the number of underage fatal crashes accounted for nearly 7%.

In 2015, there were 4,214 fatal crashes involving a driver between the ages of 16 and 20 years old, and 659, or 16%, involved a BAC of .08% or higher. Both the 2015 and 2016 data represent a significant decrease from the previous decade. In 2007, there were 6,894 fatal crashes involving a driver between the ages of 16 and 20 years old, and 1,218, or 18%, involved a BAC of .08% or higher.

Legal Consequences for Underage Driving While Intoxicated

Although there has been a decrease in crashes involving underage and intoxicated drivers, the penalties in New Jersey for drinking and driving before the age of 21 remains extremely serious, and it is much easier to be convicted with the lower legal blood-alcohol limit for minors.

If convicted of DUI or DWI, an underage driver will face the following penalties:

  • Your driver’s license will be suspended for 30 to 90 days.
  • You will be required to perform 15 to 30 days of community service.
  • You will be required to attend an Intoxicated Driver Resource Center alcohol education program and/or other highway safety program.
  • You will be required to pay significant fines, fees and surcharges.
  • Your car insurance will increase significantly.
  • You could have your car impounded.
  • Your permanent record will reflect that you had a DUI/DWI conviction, that you may need to disclose on college applications, future job applications and even for financial aid requests. A drunk driving conviction could also make you permanently ineligible for certain jobs in the future.

If you or someone you know is arrested or charged with an underage DWI, failing to get the best legal representation could result in consequences that last a lifetime.

New Jersey Attorney Edward M. Janzekovich Does DUI and DWI Defense for Drivers of All Ages

If you or someone you know is arrested, charged for, or convicted of drinking and driving, it is important to know the consequences and how to present the best defense in your case. An experienced lawyer may even be able to have the charges against you dismissed. A good 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.

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.