I represented a client last week who was charged with driving under the influence of drugs (DWI) in Bernards Township (Twp.), New Jersey. My client was pulled over by a state trooper for careless driving and he suspected that she was driving under the influence. She allegedly failed the field sobriety tests which were performed at the scene and she was arrested for drunk driving (DWI). However, when she was placed on the Alcotest 7110 breath testing device she had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .00%. The state trooper still believed that she may be under the influence of drugs so he obtained a urine sample and the case proceeded to court.
When I received the discovery from the Bernards Township Municipal Prosecutor, there was one glaring ingredient which was missing for a drug DWI prosecution in New Jersey. The state failed to call a Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) to the scene to examine my client to determine whether or not she was under the influence of drugs at the time of the stop. A “DRE” is a law enforcement officer trained to detect whether or not the driver is under the influence of drugs. The DRE performs a series of tests on the driver at the police station and makes a determination as to whether or not the driver is under the influence of drugs. The DRE also generates a detailed report as to the findings of the testing.
The lab report came back positive for prescription drugs (which my client was prescribed by a doctor) but the positive drug test alone is inconclusive. Drugs can show up in a person’s system for a long time after use. For example, marijuana can show up in your system a month after use. Therefore, without the DRE evaluation and report, the state was unable to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that my client was under the influence of drugs at the time of operation of the motor vehicle. The DWI was dismissed.