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Driving Under the Influence of Drugs, Controlled Dangerous Substance and Prescription Pills

The offense of driving under the influence of drugs, controlled dangerous substance, or prescription pills in New Jersey is charged under the same statute as driving while under the influence of alcohol, N.J.S.A. 39:4-50 and carries the same penalties. Specifically, you can be found guilty of a DUI charge if you operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of of three types of drugs: narcotics, hallucinogenic substances and habit producing drugs pursuant to N.J.S.A. 39:4-50.

The crucial difference is there is no established level which indicates you are under the influence of alcohol and you are not required to give bodily samples for testing. For example, if an officer has reason to believe you are driving under the influence of alcohol New Jersey law provides that by driving in this State you give implied consent to provide breath samples, blood samples or urine samples to test for the level of alcohol in your body. On the other hand, if an officer believes you are under the influence of drugs there is not a reciprocal implied consent that you must provide samples for a test to determine the level of drugs in your body. You can voluntarily agree to provide samples but you are not mandated under the law and if you do not provide samples you will not be penalized. In many instances, the State will need to utilize a Drug Recognition Expert to prove the case. If the police did not use a “DRE”, we may be able to work towards a dismissal.

It does not matter if the drug ingested was prescribed by a physician for an illness or condition. Regardless of how you came into possession of the narcotic, hallucinogenic or habit producing drug it is still illegal to drive while under the influence of these drugs and you could be found guilty. The key to this offense is the definition of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of a narcotic, hallucinogenic or habit producing drug, however and very important to fighting this charge, there is no definition in N.J.S.A. 39:4-50. The State will likely look to establish that you are guilty if your driving violates other moving offenses such as speeding, following too closely, driving too slowly and any other number of moving violations - actions that could show you were under the influence of a drug that altered your mental and physical abilities. In addition, if you did agree to submit to a sample that established some level of drugs in your system then that result can also be used against you.

Penalties for a first offense of N.J.S.A. 39:4-50, driving under the influence of drugs:

  • $300 to $500 mandatory fine
  • $230 IDRC fine (Intoxicated Driver Resource Center)
  • $100 DDEF (Drunk Driving Enforcement Fund)
  • $100 AERF (Alcohol Education and Rehabilitation Fund)
  • $75 SNSF (Safe Neighborhood Services Fund
  • $50 VCCB (Violent Crimes Compensation Board)
  • $1,000 per year surcharge for 3 years
  • 12-48 hours at the IDRC fine (Intoxicated Driver Resource Center)
  • up to 30 days in prison (in courts discretion)
  • 7 months to 1 year loss of license

Penalties for a second offense within 10 years are the same with the following enhancements:

  • $500 to $1,000 mandatory fine
  • 2 years loss of license
  • no less than 48 consecutive hours in jail to no more than 90 days in jail
  • 30 days community service
  • Ignition interlock device to be installed for between 1 and 3 years after suspension

Penalties for a third offense within 10 years are the same except for the following:

  • $1,000 mandatory fine
  • 10 years loss of license
  • Not less than 180 days in jail but up to 90 days may be served in an inpatient facility approved by IDRC
  • No community service requirement

The ramifications for driving under the influence of drugs are clearly severe. Not only are there high financial penalties but you could also go to jail. The importance of a good lawyer to help fight these charges cannot be understated. If I am retained I will evaluate your case to find ways to disprove the elements required to prove you are guilty.

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