Although driving under the influence (DUI) involving alcohol or driving under the influence of drugs (DUID) are well known driving losses, many are surprised to learn that there are certainly drugs, other known as controlled dangerous substances (CDS), in a motor vehicle carries even more substantive penalies than a first DUI offense in New Jersey.
Most drivers do not realize the substantive penalties that they will face if they are found to be in possession of drugs in the motor vehicle. Even more troubling, if one of the passengers in an automobile is found to be in possession of CDS it is the driver who will be charged with possession of CDS in a motor vehicle. In New Jersey the penalies for CDS in a motor vehicle are severe. The driver is subject to loss of license for a period of 2 years in addition to other potential penalies. Charges for controlled dangerous substances in a car can result not only from possession marijuana, heroin, ecstasy, methamphetamines and other recreational drugs but also from prescription drugs such as Oxycontin, Percocet, Roxycontin, Xanax, Adderall, Suboxone, Ritalin, Valium and other narcotics if they are not in the prescription container containing the name of the occupant in whose possession they are discovered.
Juveniles are often surprised by this law when they are dropped over for a minor infraction and drugs are discovered on the person of a casual acquaintance to what they are mere giving a ride. It is also common for juveniles to learn, during a routine traffic stop, that a long-time friend in their car has started experimenting with drugs and has some on their person.
When facing charges of CDS in a motor vehicle it is critical to know what the state can and can not prove. In New Jersey, the state must prove the following four elements: (1) the driver operated the motor vehicle; (2) operation of the vehicle was on a roadway; (3) the driver was aware the CDS were in the vehicle; and (4) the CDS are on the driver's person or within the vehicle.
If the state can not prove each of these elements, you should prevail. Always remember, the prosecution has the burden of proving the case against you. Police officers make mistakes in their reports, undertake illegal searches, and lose evidence or laboratory results. If you are charged with drugs in a motor vehicle do not assume that you will lose the case.