Legal Recreational Marijuana One Step Closer After Two New Bills Pass in Committee

Legal Recreational Marijuana One Step Closer in New JerseyOn the Monday after Thanksgiving, the New Jersey legislators advanced two separate bills through committee that will make marijuana more accessible and bring legal recreational marijuana closer to reality in this state.

The first bill makes big changes to the medical marijuana program, through a measure called “Jake’s Law,” and is one more change made since the medical marijuana program was greatly expanded in March this year.  The second bill plans to actually legalize the possession and personal use of smaller quantities of marijuana.  Both bills were approved by legislative committees, but will still be worked on and changed before a final vote of approval by lawmakers can be taken.  As previously addressed on the Edward M. Janzekovich law blog, Governor Phil Murphy has been working to legalize marijuana and expand medical marijuana since he took office, and today’s votes represent significant advancement of his goals.  This is the first time a recreational marijuana bill has made it out of committee to advance to the state legislature in the near future.

Medical Marijuana Program Expansion

“Jake’s Law” will reduce limits on the amount of medicinal marijuana that can be purchased by patients enrolled in the medical marijuana program – from 2 ounces to 2.5 ounces monthly.  The bill also creates a new Cannabis Regulatory Commission to control the program, and the commission will also oversee the anticipated recreational marijuana industry.  The law is named after Jake Honig, a 7-year-old boy who died from brain cancer this year who was helped by cannabis oil but could not obtain as much marijuana for medicinal use as needed.

The law also seeks to expand access to marijuana in the form of edibles, protect employees who are registered patients, and expand who may provide marijuana to patients.  Marijuana –  whether used as dried leaves, oil, or other forms such as edibles – can be helpful for certain patients to treat numerous medical conditions causing pain, nausea, dizziness, or seizures.

Recreational Marijuana Program Legalization

Committees from both the New Jersey Senate and New Jersey Assembly approved a bill to legalize weed today.  This means that the bill can advance for a  full vote in the legislature before being signed into law by Governor Murphy.  This is the first bill to make it past the introduction stage.  The bill is meant to make weed legal for possession and personal use for adults 21 and over, with limits set to one ounce or less.

Lawmakers anticipate that there may be changes to the bill before it is finalized.  Important aspects of the bill still being debated include details regarding taxation.  Currently, the bill would include a 12 percent tax, but Governor Murphy is pushing for a higher tax on recreational sales.  There are also questions regarding expungements of past marijuana possession convictions.

Additionally, some lawmakers have presented opposition to the law, suggesting that DUI and DWI rates have increased in states where marijuana was legalized, due to the increase in individuals driving high.

Smoking Weed and Driving in New Jersey

As always, it will remain illegal in this state to drive while under the influence of marijuana, cannabis, or THC (the active ingredient in marijuana).  Whether marijuana is obtained through the medicinal marijuana program or after it becomes legalized for recreational use, police officers will still treat high drivers the same as drunk drivers.  Although tests for marijuana intoxication are imprecise, there are increasingly more police officers trained and on-the-look-out for drivers under the influence. Anyone suspected of driving while intoxicated due to the marijuana will be arrested.

If a Court finds that a driver was impaired as the result of marijuana, cannabis, THC, or any other intoxicating substance while driving, and that influence resulted in impairment, then the driver can be convicted under DUI and DWI laws in the same way as if the person were driving drunk.

New Jersey Driving-While-High Attorney, Edward M. Janzekovich, Understands DUI Defense

If you or someone you know is pulled over and arrested or charged with intoxicated driving in New Jersey, you should call a good lawyer as soon as possible.  You want someone who keeps up-to-date with New Jersey DUI/DWI law and is ready to fight for your innocence. A good 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.

The Penalties for DUI in New Jersey

Penalties-for-DUI-in-New-Jersey

If you’ve been stopped and charged with drinking and driving in New Jersey, you face significant potential sanctions. Similar to other states, the penalties for DUI in New Jersey depend on a variety of factors, including severity of the offense and whether or not there are any prior convictions. Here’s an overview of the statutory penalties for drunk driving in New Jersey.

First Conviction for Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol

New Jersey takes any DUI charge seriously. Even if you’ve never been charged or convicted of drinking and driving before, you can spend up to a month in jail and pay a significant fine. In addition, you can lose your license for up to year or be required to have an ignition interlock on your car.

Second DUI Conviction

As a repeat offender, you can face up to 90 days in jail, as well as fines of up to $1,000. A second DUI can also lead to a two-year suspension of your license, and a mandatory ignition interlock.

Subsequent Convictions

With a third conviction, you can be sentenced to 180 days in jail, and can lose your driving privileges for up to 10 years. The court can also assess a $1,000 fine and order installation of an ignition interlock.

Penalties Applicable to All DUI Convictions

Regardless of how many convictions you’ve had, you incur the following:

  • A $100 fee paid to the drunk driving enforcement fund
  • A $100 fee to restore your motor vehicle registration
  • A $100 fee to the violent crimes compensation fund
  • A $100 fee to the Intoxicated Driver program
  • A $100 state and municipal fee

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.

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving 2018

We set aside one day every year to give thanks, but here at Law Office of Edward M. Janzekovich, we are thankful throughout the year for the relationships that we have built with our clients. We value your trust and your confidence, and we are committed to helping you achieve your goals.

We hope that this holiday gives you a chance to reflect on treasured memories and cherished relationships. Happy Thanksgiving!

If You Drive High, You Get a DUI

Man driving and smoking joint

Many drivers in New Jersey have likely heard the slogan, “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over,” which was part of a popular campaign to combat drunk driving. Now, with the increase in states legalizing marijuana, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) has added another slogan to its portfolio: “If You Feel Different, You Drive Different. If You Drive High, You Get a DUI.”

In addition to increased legalization, the NHTSA is focusing on studies that show an increase in the percentage of intoxicated driving crashes caused by drug impairment as compared to alcohol impairment. Alcohol is still involved in the majority of DUIs and DWIs, but the percentage involving marijuana, narcotics, and prescription drugs is slowly increasing. For this reason, police officers across the country, including in New Jersey, will be on heightened alert to arrest drivers suspected of driving while high.

New Studies Suggests Legalizing Marijuana Could Lead to More Accidents

Two studies from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI), released last month, are now suggesting that the rate of motor vehicle accidents may have increased by as much as 6-percent in states where recreational marijuana has become legal. The increase was specifically noted in Colorado, Nevada, Oregon and Washington, as compared with neighboring states where marijuana has not been legalized for recreational use.

In 2012, Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize recreational marijuana for adults 21 and older, with Oregon and Nevada following in 2014 and 2016 respectively.
One study was based on the frequency of insurance claims made for vehicular collisions in the aforementioned states, compared with the control states of Idaho, Montana, Utah and Wyoming, based on data for January 2012 through October 2017. The data was also adjusted to control for differences in the rated driver population, insured vehicle fleet, the mix of urban versus rural exposure, unemployment, weather and seasonality.

Another study looked at just the number of police-reported crashes made from 2012 to 2016 in Colorado, Oregon and Washington, to determine how the rate of crashes changed after retail sales of marijuana began. This study estimates that the three states saw a 5.2-percent increase in the rate of crashes.

Marijuana Legalization in New Jersey

As previously discussed on the Edward M. Janzekovich law blog, there have been many discussions to legalize marijuana or THC (the active ingredient in marijuana) in New Jersey for recreational use in the near future. Currently, it remains a controlled substance in this state and is only legal for medicinal use.

In addition to Colorado, Nevada, Oregon and Washington, marijuana has also been legalized for recreational use in Alaska, California, Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont and the District of Columbia, but it remains an illegal controlled substance federally. The new studies from the IIHS and HLDI may make legalization more difficult in the state.

Regardless of whether marijuana becomes legalized for recreational use, it will remain illegal to drive while impaired or “drive high.” New Jersey police officers are already on heightened alert to the possibility of impaired driving due to intoxicating drugs and marijuana, and the State already employs specially trained officers used to recognize drivers under the influence of marijuana. However, there is no perfect test to determine if someone is actually impaired as the result of marijuana, and many drivers have been wrongly accused.

If you or someone you know is pulled over and accused, arrested, or charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, marijuana, drugs, or any other substance, you may have a legitimate defense to the charges of intoxicated driving. For that reason, it is important to contact a good defense lawyer as soon as possible. A good attorney will know the best defense in your case and may be able to get the charges dismissed completely.

New Jersey DUI Attorney Edward M. Janzekovich Can Defend You if You are Charged with Driving While High

If you or someone you know is charged with drunk driving or driving high, it is extremely important to contact an experienced DUI/DWI attorney who can explain your rights to you and help defend you. 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.

Refusing to Take a Blood Alcohol Test in New Jersey

Blood-Alcohol-Test-in-New-Jersey

When you’ve been pulled over while driving, one of the first questions you’ll often face from the police officer is “have you been drinking?” If you answer affirmatively, the officer will customarily ask you to submit to either a field sobriety test or a blood alcohol test. Can you refuse to take a breath test? What are the consequences if you do?

The Concept of Implied Consent

Under New Jersey law, the doctrine of implied consent applies when you are pulled over in a traffic stop. The implied consent law stipulates that, should you be lawfully detained by a law enforcement officer who has probable cause to believe that you are under the influence of alcohol, the fact that you are behind the wheel is considered implied consent to allow you to be subjected to a blood alcohol test.

The officer cannot compel you to take the test. However, the test must be administered at the time of your detention and refusal to submit to the test may have consequences. According to New Jersey law, the first time you wrongfully refuse to submit to a BAC test, you face a seven month suspension of your driving privileges. A second refusal (during a separate arrest) can result in a two year suspension and a third refusal can cause you to lose your driving privileges for 10 year. There’s also typically a fine assessed for refusing to take a blood alcohol test—anywhere from $300 to $1,000, depending on how many times you’ve been convicted.

Challenging Your License Suspension

The most effective way to challenge your license suspension is to bring the validity of the traffic stop into question. Police must have probable cause to stop you…if you can show there was no probable cause, any evidence gathered by the police officer will be inadmissible and the charges may be dropped.

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.

How You Act in Public May Be Reasonable Suspicion to Pull You Over for Drunk Driving

Police car on the street

Here on the Edward M. Janzekovich law blog, we previously discussed how police officers cannot pull you over and require you to submit to alcohol or drug testing for no reason. Before an officer can ask you to step out of the car and perform a roadside sobriety test or arrest you and have you submit to a breathalyzer, the officer must have a legal reason to pull you over – a “reasonable, articulable suspicion” that a motor vehicle or criminal offense had occurred.

In the recent case of State v. Ceglowski, which was decided earlier this month, the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division, confirmed that a citizen’s tip could be used to meet the reasonable, articulable suspicion standard. This means that an average citizen can call 911 and tell the operator that someone was acting drunk in public before getting behind the wheel of a vehicle, and this tip can form the basis of the legal reason used by an officer to pull the person over and eventually arrest him or her for driving under the influence.

Reasonable and Articulable Suspicion

A “reasonable, articulable suspicion” or “reasonable suspicion” is a legal standard under the law that basically requires a police officer to have a legitimate reason to believe that a driver has done something wrong before the officer can pull the driver over – such as speeding or driving without headlights. Remember that most drivers are not initially pulled over for drunk driving. Most drivers are first pulled over for a traffic violation.

Once a driver is pulled over, a police officer may make new observations that causes him or her to believe that the driver is intoxicated or drunk. At this point, the police officer needs to meet the standard of “probable cause” before the officer can arrest the driver for DUI/DWI and ask him or her to submit to a breathalyzer test. The standard of “reasonable suspicion” is lower than the standard of “probable cause.”

In either scenario, an officer cannot act randomly, and the officer cannot “act on a hunch” – the officer must be able to state his or her reasons for believing that “reasonable suspicion” or “probable cause” has been met. If the officer cannot state a legitimate reason for pulling a vehicle over or for asking a driver to submit to intoxication testing, then a good lawyer can argue to have the entire arrest dismissed and the charges dropped.

State v. Ceglowski

In State v. Ceglowski, a third-party citizen saw someone who appeared to be drunk and acting inappropriately inside and outside of a liquor store. The citizen then called the police department after she saw the person get behind the driver’s seat of a pickup truck. She was able to observe and report the license plate number and model of the vehicle. The driver was then pulled over by the police and arrested on charges of driving while intoxicated.

The driver subsequently argued in Court that the charges against him should be dropped because the call was insufficient and the police officer did not have a reasonable suspicion or legal basis for pulling him over in the first place. The Court disagreed, and the Appellate Division issued an opinion earlier this month confirming that a citizen can provide information to the police that sufficiently constitutes reasonable suspicion.

Depending on the circumstances, a good lawyer will be able to challenge a third-party tip to police, and the Court will decide if the tip is sufficient or credible based on a series of factors, including whether or not the tip was anonymous and how much information is provided to the police. Accordingly, if you or someone you know is pulled over and charged or arrested for DUI/DWI, it is important to contact a good attorney as soon as possible. An experienced lawyer will be able to determine if police acted properly when making the initial stop, or if the police officers lacked reasonable suspicion or probable cause. If any legal requirements are missing, the Court may be required to drop the charges completely.

New Jersey Drunk Driving Attorney Edward M. Janzekovich Is Ready to Fight the Charges Against You

If you or someone you know is charged with DUI or DWI, the government bears the burden of proof – which means that the government has to meet certain legal requirements to bring a case against you. If the police have acted inappropriately in any way, the evidence against you may be tainted and an experienced drunk driving attorney will be able fight the charges. If you are arrested for drunk driving in New Jersey, 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.

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween! 2018

“Ray Donovan” Actor Charged with Drunk Driving and Child Endangerment

Pulled over for drunk driving

Actor Marion “Pooch” Hall, from the television show Ray Donovan, was arrested in California earlier this month for drunk driving as well as child endangerment. Hall was seen by witnesses weaving in and out of traffic with a small child on his lap in the driver’s seat, unrestrained and behind the wheel. Burbank police officers arrested Hall after he crashed into a parked vehicle. No one was injured as a result of the collision.

Although the crash occurred in California, New Jersey has similar laws prohibiting drunk driving with enhanced penalties for anyone who is convicted of Driving While Intoxicated with a Minor Passenger in the vehicle. It is illegal for anyone to drive with a blood alcohol content (BAC) over .08% BAC in all 50 states, and anyone convicted with a minor in the vehicle will likely face enhanced penalties as well as possible additional charges for child endangerment.

Charges Against Actor Marion “Pooch” Hall

Hall is an American television and film actor, rapper, and model known for his role as Derwin Davis in “The Game” on the CW/BET, as Ricky in the 2011 film “Jumping the Broom,” and currently as Daryll Donovan in the Showtime drama “Ray Donovan.”

Police officers responded to the scene and were able to arrest Hall after the crash occurred. Hall displayed signs of intoxication and was unable to perform the standardized field sobriety tests. Hall also had his two-year-old son riding in the car with him when he was driving. Subsequent reports indicate that Hall had a BAC of .25%, which is over three times the legal limit.

New Jersey’s Laws on DUI/DWI with a Minor Passenger

If this same incident had occurred in New Jersey, Hall would have been charged under this state’s law against drunk driving (N.J.S.A. 39:4-50), as well as additional charges of Driving While Intoxicated with a Minor Passenger (N.J.S.A. 39:4-50.15(c)) – because any adult who is convicted of DWI/DUI and who, at the time of the violation, has a minor as a passenger in the car is guilty of a disorderly persons offense. This means that a driver can be convicted under two separate laws if he or she drives drunk with someone under the age of 18 in the vehicle.

As a disorderly person offense, any driver convicted will face enhanced penalties – up to six (6) months in jail, a $1,000 fine, six (6) month loss of driving privileges, and five (5) days of community service may be imposed at the time of sentencing.

Depending on the circumstances, the driver could also be facing separate charges for Endangering the Welfare of Children N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4(a)(2), which is entirely separate from the state’s prohibition of drunk driving.

Accordingly, if you or someone you know is arrested for DWI with a minor passenger, he or she could be facing up to three potential sets of charges with separate required proofs, defenses, and penalties. It will be important to contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible.

New Jersey DUI/DWI Lawyer Edward M. Janzekovich Understands the Situation You’re Facing

Dealing with charges of drunk driving or driving while intoxicated can be hard. Facing enhanced penalties for DWI/DUI for driving with a minor can make it even harder. The rules that affect each defendant will be different in every case. If you or someone you know is charged with drunk driving or driving under the influence in New Jersey, getting the right 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.

Driving While… Diabetic?

Driving While Diabetic

Getting arrested for drunk driving can be really scary. Getting pulled over and arrested for drunk driving when you haven’t been drinking or aren’t drunk? That can be even worse. Surprisingly, one of the things that could lead to a false DUI conviction is if a driver is suffering from low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) or high blood sugar (hyperglycemia), due to diabetes. The American Diabetes Association estimated in 2012 that there are nearly 19 million people in the United States living with diabetes – and that only includes the people that have been diagnosed and know about it.

Unfortunately, if you are wrongly convicted of drunk driving, the consequences are the same – possible jail time, loss of license, fines, and the potential loss of your ability to work or provide for your family and loved ones. Defending against drunk driving charges can be extremely complicated. In order to prove you were falsely arrested, you will likely need a good lawyer, presenting expert evidence, to show that you were not driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

If you or someone you know has been arrested or charged with DUI or DWI, we at the Edward M. Janzekovich law blog recommend you reach out to an experienced drunk driving lawyer as soon as possible, especially if you suffer from a medical condition that could be responsible for your situation, like diabetes. You might even be suffering from a medical condition that you do not know about.

Symptoms of Intoxication versus Symptoms of Diabetes

The following symptoms are often associated with low blood sugar or hypoglycemia:

  • Bloodshot or unfocused eyes
  • Blurred vision
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Muscle Fatigue
  • Muscle Trembling or shaking
  • Nausea
  • Nervousness
  • Slurred Speech
  • Sweating

The following symptoms are often associated with high blood sugar or hyperglycemia:

  • Confusion
  • Drowsiness
  • Flushed or red skin
  • Loss of balance
  • Nausea
  • Sweet or fruity breath odor
  • Unusual breathing patterns
  • Vomiting

Not surprisingly, all of these symptoms can also be associated with intoxication. Despite the training that police officers receive, it is all too easy to mistake the signs of intoxication with the signs of someone having a diabetic episode.

In many cases, a person suffering from hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia will act and/or drive abnormally or erratically, leading a law enforcement officer to assume that the person is driving drunk or under the influence of drugs. If there is an accident, the officer may be more inclined to suspect drunk driving than diabetes. The bad breath associated with hyperglycemia, in particular, can easily be confused with alcohol breath and can even lead to a false positive on a road-side breathalyzer test.

One Thing You Can Do if You Know You Have Diabetes

In New Jersey, one of the things you can do if you have been diagnosed with diabetes is to list your condition on the back of your driver’s license. By doing this, you will be able to show a police officer that you have been legally classified with having this health condition. If you are seriously diabetic, you might also consider wearing a medical bracelet that identifies your condition. Both of these measures could also help if you have been in a collision and are unable to tell medical providers that you might be suffering from a diabetic episode.

New Jersey law N.J.S.A. 39:3-10.8a allows a person who is an insulin-dependent diabetic to voluntarily inform the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) of his or her diabetic status with the sole intent of having the medical condition written on his or her driver’s license. You will need to bring proof of the medical condition – in the form of a statement on your doctor’s prescription pad indicating that you have insulin-dependent diabetes – to the MVC when applying for or renewing your license.

Edward M. Janzekovich Has the Experience You Need if You Have Been Charged or Convicted

Proving you are innocent when you have been charged with driving while intoxicated is not easy. Defending DUI and DWI charges can involve complicated evidentiary issues. For that reason, you should always consult a drunk driving lawyer who understands and can review your case completely. 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.

Can You Beat a New Jersey Traffic Ticket?

New-Jersey-Traffic-Ticket

Did you know that plea bargaining is not allowed in a DUI prosecution in New Jersey? You can plead guilty, but you’ll simply have to accept the punishment handed down by the court. You may, however, be able to get the charges reduced or dismissed entirely if you can successfully challenge the admissibility of critical evidence, such as the blood alcohol test.

Ways to Challenge a Blood Alcohol Test

If you’ve been pulled over while driving in New Jersey and issued a ticket for a moving violation of any kind, you’re typically faced with two options—pay the ticket and accept the consequences or appear before the judge and contest the citation. Don’t be confused—the decision to pay the ticket amounts to a guilty plea and may result in points added to your driving record.

If, on the other hand, you opt to challenge the ticket, there are a number of things you can do. First, you can write the police officer a letter, documenting any extenuating circumstances. The police officer has the discretion to dismiss the charge before you are scheduled to go to court.

Next, you can present your case to the prosecutor. While you cannot plea bargain on a DUI charge in New Jersey, you can seek to have the prosecutor reduce or dismiss charges on other traffic offenses.

If you are unable to convince either the police officer or the prosecutor to reduce or drop the charges, you can schedule a trial before a municipal court judge. You can represent yourself, but it’s in your best interests to have a lawyer advocate for you. The judge won’t be able to help you and the prosecutor will be prepared.

At the trial, you’ll want to bring as much evidence as you can to support your position. If you were ticketed for running a stop sign, but the sign was partially hidden, bring a picture that shows that. If there were witnesses who can testify that you did not violate the law, make certain they are present in court.

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.