NJ DUI/DWI Lawyer BREAKING NEWS–Ballot Question on Marijuana Legalization Approved for 2020

Ballot Question on MarijuanaHere at the Edward M Janzekovich law blog, we have made it a priority to keep our readers informed on all issues pertaining to marijuana legalization in this state. Last time we discussed the matter, we reported that Governor Phil Murphy and the New Jersey State Legislature had reached an agreement on recreationalpot use. However, a vote on legalization failed when legislators could not agree on a number of issues including taxation and expungement.

Recent news from late last month and early this month have presented a new roadmap to legalization, as well as addressing expungement. If marijuana is ultimately legalized this December, as analysts predict, then New Jersey could become the 11th state, along with the District of Columbia, to legalize weed for recreational use.

Ballot Question Passed

Although a majority of legislators previously agreed that marijuana should be legalized in the state, all proposed legislation failed last March when lawmakers failed to agree to the specifics of legalization. Late last month, New Jersey legislators passed a proposed ballot question for the 2020 ballot. This means that, in November, New Jersey voters will have the opportunity to decide whether or not to legalize marijuana, and the question will be much simpler.

The New Jersey Marijuana Legalization Amendment will be on the ballot in New Jersey as a constitutional amendment on November 3, 2020. It will look like this:

A "yes" vote supports this constitutional amendment to legalize the possession and use of marijuana for persons age 21 and older and legalize the cultivation, processing, and sale of retail marijuana.

A "no" vote opposes this constitutional amendment to legalize the possession and use of marijuana and the cultivation, processing, and sale of retail marijuana in New Jersey.

Essentially, voters are being asked to vote “yes” or “no” to recreational marijuana. If the amendment passes, New Jersey Senators and Assembly persons will be forced to figure out the specifics. In the meantime, all sales of marijuana products would be subject to the state’s 6.625% sales tax, and towns could pass ordinances to charge local taxes as well.

Other Steps Towards Cannabis Legalization

With the ballot question settled, lawmakers and industry leaders are moving quickly to address other concerns regarding recreational marijuana usage.

Shortly after the ballot question was settled, legislators passed new laws to address expungement, which Governor Murphy then signed. Amongst other things, S4154 calls for low-level marijuana convictions to be sealed, meaning the conviction is essentially hidden and cannot be used in the future.

Last week, more than 100 people gathered to listen to state Senator Declan O’Scanlon, R-Monmouth, discuss marijuana decriminalization, legalization, medicinal use, and expungement.

On March 10, a large industry conference will be held in Edison, NJ, where lawyers, businessman, industry leaders, and lawmakers will take part in panel discussions and networking to address concerns around legalization.

With the November ballot rapidly approaching, more and more questions are being raised about the future of marijuana use in New Jersey – including questions regarding driving while high. One of the issues many lawmakers and law enforcement have been focusing on include how to police and enforce laws against driving high. State officials are working hard to figure out practical, technological, and/or innovative ways to determine when someone is driving under the influence of weed or pot.

Whatever decision is made, there is no question that changes will be made to the law in the not-so-distant future. If you or someone you know is arrested, charged, or convicted of smoking and driving, it is important to retain an experienced attorney who stays informed and ahead of all the changes to the DUI and DWI laws in this state.

NJ Driving While High Defense Attorney Edward M. Janzekovich Can Answer Your Questions

DUI and DWI law is constantly changing in New Jersey. If you or someone you know is arrested, charged, or convicted, you should call an experienced attorney as soon as possible. A good lawyer can make all the difference. To speak with an experienced New Jersey DWI lawyer about your situation, call us at 732-257-1137 or contact us online today. We serve clients throughout the state of New Jersey.

New Jersey DUI – DWI Lawyer – Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana

It is illegal to drive while high on marijuana (weed, pot, etc.) in New Jersey.  Although New Jersey does not have a specific law that addresses driving under the influence of marijuana, the same law that prohibits drunk driving (N.J.S.A. 39:4-50, titled “Driving While Intoxicated”) applies to drugged driving offenses as well.  This law prohibits driving under the influence of any intoxicating substance, including narcotics, hallucinogens or even some over the counter medications.

How Do the Authorities Prove a Person is Under the Influence of Marijuana?

When a person is pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving, they are given a breathalyzer test to determine their blood alcohol content.  So how does a police officer know whether a driver is under the influence of marijuana?  Usually, a driver will be asked to take a blood or urine test.  However, a positive drug test only indicates that there is marijuana in a person’s system at the time of the traffic stop—and marijuana can stay in a person’s system weeks after using it.  Therefore, if you are arrested for drugged driving, additional evidence is generally relied upon to prove the DUI in court.

If you go to trial for your DUI charge, the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were operating a vehicle under the influence of marijuana.  This requires some expert testimony to establish that the drugs found in your system were not just residual, but actually rendered you impaired and unable to safely operate a motor vehicle.

In drugged driving cases, the general rule is that the accused must have been tested at the time of their arrest by a specially trained police officer referred to as a Drug Recognition Expert (“DRE”).  However, for marijuana cases, the prosecutor can establish intoxication through testimony of any police officer who has been trained in field sobriety and who has experience in identifying marijuana intoxication.  In such cases, an officer will testify that there was objective evidence that a driver’s physical or mental capabilities were impaired by the drug.  This testimony can be the State’s Achilles heel.  An experienced DWI lawyer may be able to have your charges either dismissed or downgraded by discrediting this testimony.

No Implied Consent for Blood or Urine Testing

In New Jersey, as a condition of receiving your driver’s license, you have agreed to take a breath test to determine the content of alcohol in your system if you are pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving.  This is known as “implied consent.”  If you refuse to take the test, you are subject to punishment including a loss of driving privileges.  But this law does not extend to drivers who are suspected of being under the influence of marijuana or other substances.  If you are pulled over and the police suspect that you are high on marijuana or some other substance, there are no penalties or sanctions if you refuse to submit to a blood or urine test.  Chemical testing for marijuana or any other substance is only performed on a voluntary basis or if a warrant has been issued by a judge.  First, the investigating officer would ask you for your consent to provide a urine or blood sample.  If you refuse, then the officer can attempt to obtain a warrant from a judge, based upon probable cause.  If a warrant is issued, then you have to comply.  It is amazing just how many people, knowing full well they have a substance in their system, agree to voluntarily submit to a blood or urine test.  Most people just don’t know they can say no.

Penalties for Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana

Penalty for a conviction will vary depending on whether you have ever been convicted of drugged driving in the past.

  • For a first conviction, drivers face a fine of between $300 and $500, up to 30 days in jail, and between seven months and one-year license suspension.
  • For a second conviction, drivers face a fine of between $500 and $1,000, 30 days community service, 2 to 90 days in jail, and a two-year license suspension.
  • For a third (or subsequent) conviction, drivers face fines up to $1,000, 180 days in jail, and a ten-year license suspension.

If you have been charged with drugged driving, you may also face additional penalties for related charges such as possession of a controlled dangerous substance.

What About Medical Marijuana?

Although New Jersey allows certain individuals to use medical marijuana, just like any other legally prescribed medication, it is still a crime to drive if one’s ability to safely drive a car is impaired by the drug.

Edward M. Janzekovich Defends People Charged with Marijuana DWI/DUI

If you were arrested for driving while impaired by marijuana, we can help.  Trusted New Jersey DWI lawyer Edward M. Janzekovich is available to answer your questions and discuss your best defense.  Call us today at 732-257-1137 or contact us online today.  We serve clients throughout New Jersey, including Ocean County, Monmouth County, Mercer County, Middlesex County, Union County and Somerset County.