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Photo of Craig R. Fishman

Tried And True Attorneys Standing Up For The Injured Since 1965

Drunk and drugged driving under New Jersey law

On Behalf of | May 20, 2024 | DWI/DUI Defense |

Recreational cannabis has been legal in New Jersey has been legal for several years now, but lawmakers and law enforcement agencies are still adjusting to the change. One of the most difficult issues involves drugged driving.

New Jersey prosecutes drugged driving more or less the same way it prosecutes drunk driving. A driver accused of either alcohol or cannabis intoxication can be charged with DWI,, and can face the same penalties if convicted. However, determining cannabis intoxication is quite different from determining alcohol intoxication.

Determining intoxication

Police have several ways of detecting alcohol intoxication, including having a driver walk a straight line and perform other sobriety tests. They typically also use chemical breath test devices. These electronic unites are designed to determine a drivers blood alcohol concentration, or BAC. If a driver shows a BAC of 0.08% or higher, they are considered to be driving while drunk. This is sometimes known as the “legal limit.”

Police can administer these tests themselves at a traffic stop, and under New Jersey’s “implied consent” law, drivers are presumed to have consented to the test in advance. However, the results of these tests are not always reliable. For that reason, police often take a suspect to a location where a trained professional can administer a more accurate test of the driver’s blood or urine.

Everyone agrees that, as with alcohol, there is a point at which a person’s cannabis intoxication renders them unsafe to drive, but law enforcement does not have the same standards for determining cannabis intoxication. There is no widely-accepted cannabis equivalent to the chemical breath test device, and New Jersey has no equivalent to the 0.08% legal limit when it comes to THC, the intoxicating compound in cannabis.

THC blood test plan

State lawmakers have looked at several plans to standardize cannabis DWI. A measure currently under consideration in the legislature would expand the “implied consent” law to cover THC blood tests. If the measure becomes law, the state would presume that all drivers consent in advance to having a police officer draw their blood at a roadside in order to test their blood for THC levels.

There are many possible problems with this idea. One is that there is still no agreed-upon “legal limit” for THC in a person’s bloodstream.