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Updated by Scott Gorman on May 10, 2018
Headline for Five Things to Know About Marijuana DUIs in New Jersey
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Scott Gorman Scott Gorman
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Five Things to Know About Marijuana DUIs in New Jersey

If you drive while high, you should know the laws regarding legal and illegal marijuana use and possession. Read on to discover the five things you need to know about marijuana DUIs in NJ.

1

State Law

In New Jersey, drivers must be sober enough to safely operate their vehicle, or they could be charged with driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If you smoke marijuana, and then you get behind the wheel, you run the risk of being caught and charged under N.J.S.A. 39:4-50, the state’s DWI law. This law criminalizes any driving under the influence of a “liquor, narcotic, hallucinogenic or habit-producing drug,” and includes marijuana. Even if the drug is made legal for recreational use, driving while high will still be criminalized, much in the same way that drunk driving is criminalized.

2

Penalties for Driving while High

If you’ve been convicted of a first-time DWI for using drugs, you will be facing the same penalties that would be assessed for the highest level of drunk driving charges. Penalties for this include a fine from $300-$500, up to 30 days in jail, and a period of driver’s license suspension from 7 months to 1 year. These convictions usually also include mandatory driver's education courses and repeated drug screenings.

Repeat offenders face even more serious penalties, with increased fines up to $1,000, and jail time up to 180 days. Second-time offenders will have their licenses suspended for up to 2 years, and third-time offenders will lose theirs for up to 10 years.

3

DWI Traffic Stops for Suspected Marijuana Use

If you’re pulled over because an officer suspects that you are high, be aware of what he’s looking for. The officer will be checking for any signs to prove that you are impaired—the drugs in plain sight, red eyes, the smell of marijuana. These can all be used as evidence.

4

Sobriety Tests

As part of your traffic stop, you may also be asked to take a field sobriety test, or a chemical test, to further support the officer’s assessment. Any evidence collected here can be used against you in court.

5

Defending Yourself against DWI Charges for Marijuana

Knowing the laws regarding marijuana and driving, how traffic stops are handled, and the stakes for a conviction can help you build a defense if you are charged with a DWI. You may be able to demonstrate your sobriety or refute the claims against you, depending on the circumstances surrounding your arrest.