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Drugged driving can lead to DWIs

On Behalf of | Apr 8, 2024 | DWI/DUI |

Driving while intoxicated (DWI) is a criminal offense in New Jersey. This is because an intoxicated driver endangers themselves and everyone else on the road with their impaired judgment and motor skills. Driving while drunk raises the chances of causing a collision, so law enforcement doesn’t hesitate to arrest liquored-up drivers to prevent accidents.

However, alcohol isn’t the only substance that can impair drivers. Certain illegal controlled substances, as well as prescription drugs and over-the-counter medication, can affect your ability to drive safely and lead to DWIs. Whether it’s cocaine, heroin, opioids or cough medicine, any substance that can cause intoxication can trigger DWI violations.

What the law says about drugged driving

According to state law, a person can face DWI charges not just for driving drunk but also for being under the influence of a narcotic, hallucinogenic or habit-producing drug. This definition is broad enough to cover both illegal and legal drugs with approved medical uses for as long as they have side effects that can impair a person’s ability to operate a motor vehicle.

The penalties for drugged driving are the same as those for drunk driving. On conviction, the person faces up to $500 in fines and 30 days of imprisonment for a first offense. The court may also order the suspension of the person’s driver’s license for seven months to a whole year.

Are there legal limits for drugged driving?

New Jersey sets a minimum blood/breath alcohol concentration limit of .08% for a driver intoxicated by alcohol to face DWI charges.

On the other hand, there’s no specific legal limit for drug impairment. Instead, officers who pull over drivers for a traffic stop may rely on observations and field sobriety tests to determine if a person is under the effects of drugs.

Testing for drugged driving

Officers may look for the following signs of drug impairment in drivers:

  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Slurred speech
  • Unusual driving behavior

Even before the officer asks the driver to participate in field sobriety tests, they’ll start noting any suspicious behavior that may indicate intoxication.

If the officer suspects drug impairment, they may request a blood or urine test. These tests can detect the presence of substances in the person’s blood or urine, respectively. Because there’s no legal limit to the amount of drugs a person can have in their blood or urine, any amount can be used as evidence against the person.

Driving under the influence of drugs is a serious offense in New Jersey. If you face charges, remember that a conviction can lead to jail time and even a license suspension. A legal professional may be able to explain your defense options and represent you in court.