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Proposed law would compel suspected drugged drivers to give blood

On Behalf of | Mar 5, 2024 | Criminal Defense |

In New Jersey, the legalization of recreational marijuana has changed the landscape significantly. While people 21 and older can purchase the substance, they can still face charges of driving under the influence if they use it before getting behind the wheel.

Like alcohol-related DWI charges, the driver can be confronted with severe penalties if they are convicted. They can lose their driving privileges, be fined and face jail time. It can have ancillary consequences like hindering a person getting a job and courting disfavor in the community.

However, a common obstacle for law enforcement with drug DUI is the lack of immediate testing procedures. A proposed law would change that and drivers should be aware of its progress.

Implied consent would extend to blood testing for marijuana

Any driver in the Garden State who is asked to take a breath test to see if they are under the influence is bound to do so under the implied consent laws. If the bill regarding marijuana is passed, it would expand implied consent and require drivers to give blood if the officer suspects they are under the influence. They would not need a warrant to do so.

The test would determine the amount of THC in their body. At least three nanograms would mean they are under the influence. There are concerns about the tests, whether they are reliable and if officers are qualified to make the determination as to whether someone appears high to order the test.

Cannabis can remain in a person’s body for more than 45 days making it possible that people will test positive when they were not using the substance before driving. This is fundamentally different from alcohol and the breathalyzer tests officers use to check the blood alcohol concentration.

Drivers accused of DUI or DWI must protect themselves

Although this is just a bill and has not become law, it makes clear how seriously lawmakers and law enforcement are taking the possibility that drivers will be driving under the influence of marijuana. With any allegations of DWI or DUI, there are avenues to fight the charges and avoid conviction.

The officer might have made the traffic stop without proper justification for doing so. The testing procedures could have been flawed or the driver might have had a reasonable explanation for appearing to have been under the influence. For these cases, it is essential to know what options are available and to plan a strong criminal defense.


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