Despite Governor Phil Murphy’s efforts, it does not appear recreational marijuana will receive legislative approval this year. However, as more states legalize recreational cannabis, the issue of driving under the influence (DUI) of marijuana will increase. In New Jersey, the penalties for a DUI are the same whether the driver was under the influence of marijuana or alcohol.
Marijuana versus Alcohol
A DUI involving marijuana differs from an alcohol DUI charge. Breathalyzer tests can measure the amount of alcohol in the blood. Law enforcement officers carry breathalyzers with them. However, measuring the amount of THC, the psychoactive component of cannabis, is not that simple. There is no portable machine for measuring THC levels. Because marijuana stays in the body for days and weeks after use, if someone tests positive for cannabis use, that does not prove they were stoned when behind the wheel. For these reasons, DUIs for marijuana often occur when a police officer stops a vehicle for some other reason, and then notices the smell of marijuana emanating from the vehicle and signs of cannabis use.
Medical Marijuana Patients
New Jersey has long had a medical marijuana program, and Governor Murphy has expanded the conditions for qualifying users. However, just because a person is a registered medical marijuana patient does not mean they can drive while under the influence of cannabis.
DUI with Marijuana Penalties
As noted, the penalties are the same for a DUI charge for marijuana as they are for a DUI charge for alcohol. Penalties for a first-time DUI may include:
- Seven to twelve month loss of license
- Up to 30 days in jail
- Fines of up to $400
- $1,000 automobile insurance annual surcharge for three years
- Other fees of up to $525
- Substance abuse assessment
When alcohol impairment is involved, installation of an ignition interlock device in the driver’s car for up to one year is often required. The device is designed to measure alcohol in the breath before starting the car. While it is possible that a person convicted of a DUI for marijuana might need an ignition interlock installed, the device cannot measure THC levels.
Contact a South Jersey Criminal Defense Lawyer at the Law Offices of Agre & St. John Involving Convictions for Driving Under the Influence
If you have been charged with a DUI for marijuana, you need the services of a South Jersey criminal defense lawyer at the Law Offices of Agre & St. John. We have extensive experience representing juveniles and adults in a wide range of legal matters and will aggressively defend your rights and protect your reputation. Call us today at 856-428-7797 or contact us online to arrange an initial consultation. Located in Haddonfield, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout South Jersey, including Camden County, Salem County, Burlington County, and Gloucester County.