NJ Driving Under the Influence of Drugs (DUID)
Driving under the influence of drugs, or DUID, is prosecuted similarly to New Jersey alcohol related drunk driving arrests. Anyone who drives under the influence of drugs, legal or illegal, can be arrested for New Jersey DUID.
Driving under the influence of drugs is an extremely serious offense that carries severe consequences, so it’s critical to have a skilled NJ DWI defense attorney fighting for the driver’s rights. A New Jersey lawyer experienced in defending driving under the influence of drugs (DUID) cases will use a defense strategy that seeks to minimize or even eliminate the repercussions of a driving under the influence case.
The central issue in DUID cases is whether the motorist met the legal definition of being under the influence. “Under the influence” is defined in DUID cases as being unable to drive with the same caution as a sober person under the same or similar circumstances. The question is whether the alcohol or drugs deleteriously affected the person’s operation of the vehicle.
Many drivers are unaware that taking legal, over-the-counter and prescription drugs can result in a driving under the influence of drugs arrest. The only issue is whether the legal definition of driving under the influence was met.
Like drunk driving cases, DUID cases are prosecuted with circumstantial evidence. The prosecutor will try to introduce evidence of the driver’s field sobriety tests, driving patterns, and appearance.
In New Jersey drunk driving cases, the motorist is typically required to take a blood or urine test. In NJ DUID cases, police administer a blood or urine test. Urine testing is so unreliable that it is almost never used in an alcohol related drunk driving investigation, but it is used routinely for a drug arrest.
Urine testing is extremely suspect in DUID cases because different drugs take varying amounts of time to be eliminated by the body. For example, marijuana can remain in a driver’s system for days, but many stimulants are eliminated in just a few hours. Therefore, a driver who smoked marijuana on a Tuesday would still show the presence of the drug on a Friday, long after the drug’s effects have worn off.
Police sometimes start a New Jersey DUID investigation when the driver’s breath test shows a blood alcohol content (BAC) of less than .08 percent. Some law- enforcement agencies will launch a drug evaluation any time a breath test reveals a BAC of .05 percent or less.
Some police departments now employ Drug Recognition Evaluators, or DREs, to investigate DUID cases. DREs assess drug intoxication by checking the driver’s pupil size, pulse rate, blood pressure, and other factors. The officer will inspect the driver’s arms and other common sites for needle marks. Field sobriety tests may be administered in a controlled and well-lit environment. The officer’s observations will be used to form probable cause for arrest as well as evidence for a court case.
However, there are many conditions that can be mistaken for drug intoxication, including fatigue, illness, or injury. Urine tests are unreliable, and the so-called symptoms of DUID are open to interpretation. The bottom line is that DUID cases can be fought and won. The repercussions of a New Jersey driving under the influence of drugs - DUID conviction are severe, so it’s critical to have a New Jersey DWI / DUI defense lawyer fighting for the accused driver’s rights.
Evan Levow was trained in the DRE protocol in 2005, having undergone the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration course in Texas. Mr. Levow sought this training, not because he believed in the accuracy of the DRE program, but to understand how the State seeks to prosecute DUID cases.
In fact, it is Levow DWI Law position in every DUID / DRE case that the DRE protocol is junk science which should not be accepted by the courts in New Jersey for evidential purposes.
A recent New Jersey Supreme Court case addressed DUID – Marijuana. In State v. Bealor, 187 N.J. 574, 902 A.2d 226 (2006) the Court held:
(1) although evidentially competent lay observations of the fact of intoxication are always admissible in DWI trial, lay opinion in respect of the cause of the intoxication other than from alcohol consumption is not admissible;
(2) competent lay observations of the fact of intoxication, coupled with additional independent proofs tending to demonstrate defendant's consumption of narcotic, hallucinogenic or habit-producing drugs as of the time of the defendant's arrest, constitute proofs sufficient to allow the fact-finder to conclude, without more, that the defendant was intoxicated beyond a reasonable doubt and, thereby, to sustain a conviction for DWI; and
(3) state proved beyond a reasonable doubt that defendant was driving while under the influence of marijuana.
There are no other DRE related cases so far published in New Jersey. This is a developing area of the law in New Jersey and other states. If you are charged with a New Jersey DUID, you need a skilled and experienced law firm on your side to fight for you.
If you would like a copy of State v. Bealor, or if you would like to discuss your NJ DUID case, please call Levow DWI Law at 877-593-1717 for a free consultation.