For a New Jersey officer to charge a driver with driving while intoxicated (DWI), the driver must show telltale signs of inebriation (i.e., slurred speech, inability to keep balance, etc.). The driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) levels must also exceed the .08% limit during a roadside test.
But officers can also charge drivers if it’s found that the motorists are driving while under the influence of an intoxicating drug or substance.
Which drugs or controlled substances are officers looking for before charging a driver with DWI? And what are the punishments that await drivers charged with drug DWI?
Which substances cause intoxication?
According to New Jersey law, any narcotic, hallucinogenic or habit-forming substances that can induce intoxication can lead to a DWI. Besides known controlled substances and drugs such as acid, ecstasy, marijuana and meth, officers will also look for substances with vapors that can be inhaled to cause intoxication. These may include things like glue and plastic cement.
The penalties for drug DWI
If an officer charges a driver with DWI for using their vehicle while under the influence of drugs, the penalties the driver faces are harsh.
For their first conviction, a driver faces a maximum $500 fine, up to 30 days in prison and a requirement to attend an Intoxicated Driver Resource Center for two consecutive days. Notably, this is similar to the penalty for drunk drivers whose BAC levels are .10% or higher, so it’s a step above the initial alcohol DWI punishment for drivers with BAC of .08%.
In addition to the above penalties, a driver charged with a drug DWI must forfeit their right to operate a motor vehicle for at least seven months or up to a year.
Drivers who refuse to submit to a roadside chemical test that could detect traces of drug or substance abuse can also have their license suspended on the spot.
The penalties for drug DWIs work similarly to those for alcohol DWIs, and both can leave drivers with a criminal record. Because much is at stake, drivers who face charges should review their cases before attending their court hearings.