Like many states, New Jersey has legalized the recreational and medicinal use of marijuana. But driving while under the influence (DWI) of marijuana or any other drug is still illegal. This article explains how drugged driving can lead to a DWI conviction as well as the possible penalties.
A driver is considered "under the influence" if his or her mental faculties or physical capabilities have substantially deteriorated. This definition not only includes obvious manifestations of intoxication but any degree of impairment that affects a person's ability to operate a motor vehicle.
Proof of impairment. New Jersey doesn't have a per se limit for drug metabolites (similar to the .08% limit for alcohol). To prove a DWI charge at trial, the prosecutor will often use evidence like blood test results, expert testimony, and officer testimony on observations made during the arrest. Officers are trained in drug impairment recognition to identify the symptoms and signs of drug use and impairment.
Qualifying drugs and other substances. A DWI conviction can be based on impairment resulting from any narcotic, hallucinogenic, or habit-producing drug. This list includes street drugs like heroin, but also legal drugs like prescription medications and marijuana. Having a valid prescription or legal right to use a substance isn't a legal defense to an impaired driving charge.
First and second drugged driving charges are generally misdemeanors and the penalties are the same as those for drunk driving. A DWI is considered a second offense if occurring within ten years of the first offense.
First offense. A first DWI conviction will result in up to 30 days in jail, $300 to $500 in fines, 12 to 48 hours in an Intoxicated Driver Resource Center, and a seven- to 12-month license revocation.
Second offense. A second DWI conviction will result in at least 48 hours to 90 days in jail, $500 to $1,000 in fines, 30 days community service, and a one- to two-year license revocation. The driver must also complete the required screening, evaluation, referral, and program of the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center.
Fees. All DWI convictions result in a $100 DWI surcharge as well as three annual surcharges of at least $1,000.