Our law firm represents individuals charged with a variety of offenses in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. A frequent question that we receive is, can I drive with my medical marijuana card and should I show it to police when, and if, I’m stopped for a traffic violation. It is important to understand that despite legalization in states like New Jersey and decriminalization in states like Pennsylvania, medical marijuana remains a controlled substance and actually still classified as a Schedule 1 drug under the federal government. With that said, marijuana causes impairment. Drunk (drugged) driving laws in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, like all states, focus on impairment.
Drunk & Drugged DUI/DWI Laws in Pennsylvania and New Jersey
These laws were created to address safety while driving. State and the federal government have a compelling interests to protect drivers and DUI/DWI laws do this by making it illegal to drive while under the influence of alcohol and any drug. People assume that drugs only mean illegal drugs like cocaine, heroin, PCP and LSD, but impairment applies to all drugs, even something OTC like Benadryl or by prescription like Marijuana. With that said, driving under the influence of marijuana is illegal in Pennsylvania and New Jersey and can subject you to DUI/DWI penalties, which can include mandatory driver’s license suspension and even jail in both states. The fact that New Jersey has legalized marijuana and Pennsylvania has a strong medical marijuana program is absolutely irrelevant to your defense for a drugged driving charge.
What should you do if you’re stopped and you have a medical marijuana card
If you’re stopped for suspicion of DUI/DWI, never volunteer information and there is no need to proudly present your medical marijuana card as some licensed to drive while under the influence of the drug. Police may ask you, if you A medical marijuana card isn’t a defense to DUI/DWI. If anything, the card provides police with probable cause to begin an investigation, which can include a field sobriety test and more questions. If you fail the field sobriety test and or provide information to the officer regarding impairment, he or she can arrest you for suspicion of DUI/DWI.
After you’re arrested a blood test will likely show some evidence of drug use and there is a strict standard in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. While alcohol requires a BAC level of .08 or higher, there is no minimum standard for drugs and narcotics. Further, the prosecution doesn’t need a blood or alcohol test to prosecute you for DUI/DWI. Both Pennsylvania and New Jersey maintain general impairment DUI/DWI statutes which allow the prosecution to establish proof beyond a reasonable doubt based on the officer’s testimony with regards to your presentation following a traffic stop.
What should you do if you’re charged with DUI/DWI because of medical marijuana
If you have any questions regarding drunk driving, you should contact a criminal defense lawyer to discuss your options. If you’re stopped for suspicion of DUI/DWI do not refuse a chemical test, but never volunteer information regarding where you came from, where you were going, or what you happened to drink, smoke, or ingest prior to the police officer stopping you. This isn’t required information and simply give your officer your license, registration and proof of insurance. All other information isn’t necessary, irrelevant and the officer can’t force you to provide any information beyond your driving credentials.
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