Although drunk driving charges are quite common in New Jersey, drugged driving is becoming increasingly common. One of the most common types of drugged driving involves marijuana. Sometimes known as a marijuana DUI, driving under the influence of marijuana is actually the same as any other New Jersey DWI charge. However, there are a few things that you should know about getting a marijuana DUI.
The Similarities Between a Marijuana DUI and an Alcohol DUI
In New Jersey, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol breaks the same law. As a result, you can get a DUI for drunk driving or drugged driving. Marijuana is included on the list of drugs that can get you DUI charges.
Much like an alcohol-related DUI, a marijuana DUI comes with serious penalties. Those penalties depend on several factors. For example, they depend on your number of prior offenses. They also depend on the severity of your drugged driving incident. Even the disposition and bias of your judge can affect the seriousness of your penalty.
If you get a conviction for a marijuana DUI, then the penalties can vary. However, the court needs to follow traditional DUI guidelines. First-time offenses result in a fine between $250 and $400. Additionally, they can result in jail time of up to 30 days. They also can result in the suspension of a license for up to one year.
After your first offense, the stakes are higher. The court could order a fine of between $500 and $1,000. On top of the fine, you could face jail time of up to 90 days. You might also have to perform 30 days of community service. Finally, you could lose your license for as long as two years.
If you have three offenses, then you have even harsher consequences. The fine could be as much as $1,000. Additionally, you could spend six months in jail and lose your license for up to ten years.
In any marijuana DUI, a judge uses her own discretion. If she feels that jail time is not necessary, then she can order probation instead. The guidelines are only there to offer maximum sentences. In your DUI, the outcome could be much less serious.
What Is the Legal Limit for Marijuana?
If a police officer pulls you over for a marijuana DUI, he has no way to test your sobriety on-site. Unlike an alcohol DUI, a marijuana one does not have a suitable field test. For an alcohol DUI, a police officer can administer a breathalyzer test. That test gives the officer an accurate way to measure your sobriety. If its results are over the legal limit, then he can arrest you. He can also use the value against you in court.
However, marijuana DUIs lack that type of protocol. Marijuana is very different from alcohol. In fact, it is so different that researchers don’t know how to come up with a way to measure sobriety. Instead of affecting your blood, alcohol affects your brain. This makes it difficult to measure. It’s also difficult to determine how much marijuana is too much marijuana. With a lack of research on the subject, researchers and politicians are at a loss. They can’t come up with an effective testing protocol for marijuana.
Current Testing Methods
If a police officer wants to test you for marijuana, he can issue a blood or urine test. However, these tests are very invasive and not acceptable in the field. They are also inaccurate. To date, there is no way to say that the blood or urine tests for marijuana correlate with your level of sobriety. While they do show that marijuana is present in your body, they don’t show the degree of your sobriety.
One of the drawbacks of these two testing methods is the fact that they are not mandatory. In a recent Supreme Court decision, the court decided that the police cannot force you to give a blood or urine sample without a warrant. Until they get a warrant, you can refuse to take the test. There can be no consequences for your refusal.
Instead of relying on science to prove your insobriety, the prosecutor needs to use expert testimony. For example, he needs to rely on police testimony. If an officer can testify that your physical coordination and mental faculties were harmful to others, then the prosecutor might have a case. Sometimes, this testimony needs to come from a police officer who is qualified as a Drug Recognition Expert. However, this is not always the case.
Fighting a Marijuana DUI
Like an alcohol DUI, there are many ways to fight a marijuana DUI. Currently, marijuana DUIs lack protocol. This makes it easier for lawyers to fight the charges. If you find yourself facing a DUI for marijuana, you should contact a lawyer. There might be a way to fight your charges and get a good outcome.