I represented a client last week who was charged with drunk driving (DWI), careless driving, possession of marijuana (under 50 grams), and possession of CDS in a motor vehicle in Elizabeth, New Jersey. The circumstances of the arrest and stop were as follows: The police officer ran my client’s license plates and my client had an outstanding warrant for a traffic ticket he failed to resolve. When the police officer approached the vehicle, he allegedly smelled marijuana and inquired about same. My client confessed to “smoking earlier that day” and turned over a small bag of marijuana that he had in his shoe. Based on these circumstances, my client was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI) based on his allegedly being under the influence of drugs. My client provided a urine sample which came back positive for marijuana.

When I appeared in court on the case, the State’s case with regard to the DWI was deficient at best. The police officer failed to perform any field sobriety testing at the scene to determine if my client was impaired based on drugs at the time of the stop. Further, my client was not asked nor did he provide a breath sample to determine if he was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the traffic stop. Moreover, the State failed to have a drug recognition expert (DRE) respond to the scene or to the station to examine my client at the time of the arrest. The DRE performs testing on the defendant and writes a report with regard to whether or not the defendant exhibited signs of drug impairment and was operating a motor vehicle while under influence of same. The mere presence of marijuana in my client’s system based on the urinalysis is inconclusive: marijuana will show up in his system typically if he used same within the last thirty (30) days. It does not prove that he was under the influence at the time he operated the motor vehicle. Finally, his admission that he “smoked earlier that day” does not conclusively show that he was impaired at the time of the stop.

Based on all these issues and the clear problems with the State’s case, the DWI was dismissed. My client plead guilty to careless driving with no license suspension and my client was given a conditional discharge based on his marijuana possession charge. Therefore, when and if my client successfully completes the conditional discharge program, the criminal charges will be dismissed and he will have no record. My client was able to avoid a criminal record, a drunk driving charge (DWI), and his license was not suspended: needless to say, the client was extremeley satisfied with the representation he received from my firm.