NJ DUI Attorney Discusses: New Jersey Man Found Not Guilty of Driving While High Although Found with Marijuana/ THC in His Blood

NJ DUI Attorney Discusses: New Jersey Man Found Not Guilty of Driving While High Although Found with Marijuana/ THC in His BloodA New Jersey case demonstrated why it is so important to get a good DUI/DWI defense attorney if you or someone you know is ever charged with driving under the influence of marijuana. A South Jersey man, Patrick Miller, was charged with driving while intoxicated in addition to two counts of vehicular homicide in a 2015 accident that took two lives. Miller was subsequently tested and found to have THC in his blood. THC is the active ingredient in marijuana.

Based on the results of the blood test, multiple charges were brought and Miller faced up to 20 years in state prison. Prosecutors recommended a sentence of 12 years if he agreed to plead guilty. Instead, Miller plead not guilty, sought legal counsel, and went to trial to fight the charges against him. This past week, he was acquitted, meaning a jury of twelve of his peers agreed that he was not guilty.

The Accident

Patrick Miller’s accident was highlighted in the news after the 28-year-old handyman lost control of his pickup truck and struck a jogger and local teacher, Allison McGinnis. Miller’s truck then struck a tree, flipped over, and killed his passenger, David Eldridge.

The Blood Test

Miller was airlifted from the crash. Accordingly, he was given a blood test while receiving medical treatment – blood tests are very common when a driver who is suspected of DUI or DWI is injured. Because a breathalyzer or breath test cannot be given to a seriously injured driver, police officers will often request a warrant and get a court-ordered blood test to determine if a driver is under the influence of alcohol or other intoxicants.

In this case, police officers administered a blood test to see if Miller was under the influence of any substances. 4 nanograms per milliliter of THC were found in Miller’s blood sample. Accordingly, prosecutors blamed the accident on intoxication and decided to bring charges including Driving While Intoxicated and vehicular manslaughter, based on the theory that Miller drove his truck recklessly while intoxicated causing two deaths.

The Defense in the Case

Instead of accepting the plea deal, Miller chose to fight the charges against him. The law requires the state to prove that a driver is actually intoxicated or impaired while operating a motor vehicle. Experts were presented by both the prosecution and the defense to argue that the blood test results were unreliable in establishing intoxication. In fact, Miller’s results – the THC reading of 4 nanograms per milliliter of blood – was below the level set as a standard in many of the states that have legal marijuana — 5 nanograms of THC concentration.

Furthermore, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has cautioned against using blood tests to determine cannabis impairment, and many lawyers and politicians are concerned that this arbitrary standard could lead to false accusations and flawed charges being brought against marijuana users. One of the major problems in prosecuting driving while high cases is that marijuana can remain in the blood stream long after a person is no longer impaired or under the influence.

In Miller’s case, other defenses included witness testimony that helped show that he was not driving erratically shortly before the accident, nor was he impaired while performing handyman work 20 minutes before the accident occurred. Ultimately, a jury agreed with Miller and his attorney that there was not enough evidence to show that Miller was actually intoxicated or impaired while operating his vehicle.

New Jersey Marijuana Driving Defense Attorney Edward M. Janzekovich Can Defend You if You’re Charged

The consequences for driving while high are serious. If you or someone you know is arrested, charged or convicted, an experienced attorney will know how to defend you in a court of law before a judge and jury. Hiring the right attorney matters. A good lawyer can make all the difference. To speak with an experienced New Jersey DWI/DUI lawyer about your situation, call us at 732-257-1137 or contact us online today. We serve clients throughout the state of New Jersey.