Driving Under the Influence of Prescription Drugs

In Ocean and Monmouth County New Jersey, a driver may be charged with driving under the influence (DUI) when they are operating a motor vehicle under the influence of prescription medications.  New Jersey’s DWI statute N.J.S.A.: 4-50, punishes the operation of a motor vehicle under the influence of narcotics.

State v. Tamburro

New Jersey courts have interpreted the definition of “narcotic” to include prescription drugs.  In State v. Tamburro, 68 N.J. 414 (1975), the Supreme Court of New Jersey upheld the DWI conviction of a Defendant who was driving after having taken a daily prescribed dose of methadone. This case demonstrates that a driver is not protected from DUI or DWI laws simply from having a medical prescription.  Furthermore, a driver who has been pulled over for suspicion of DUI will often inadvertently admit to driving under the influence by informing the officer of their medical prescription.  Although the driver thinks this will save them from facing penalties, it actually acts as an admission of driving under the influence.

To be convicted of a drug DUI, the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that drugs were present in the driver’s system (usually through blood or chemical testing), and that the driver was intoxicated at the time he was driving the vehicle to the point where his condition was so impaired that he was a danger to himself and/or others on the road.  Further, if the officer suspects that the driver is under the influence of prescription drugs and the drugs are present in the vehicle, the officer may require the driver to show proof of the prescription.  The driver may be subject to penalties if he is unable to do so.

Drug Recognition Expert

Urine and blood tests are most frequently used in DUI drug cases.  In DUI drug cases, the State bears the burden of proving that a drug taken was the legal cause of the defendant’s impaired behavior.  Occasionally, an arresting officer may be a trained Drug Recognition Expert (“DRE”).  These experts are trained in drug recognition and the testimony of a DRE bears considerable weight that may alone sustain a DUI drug conviction.

However, many legal and scientific scholars throughout the country question the label of “expert” as the training is not as extensive as those whom society typically considers “experts” (i.e.:medical doctors, engineers, scientists, etc.)  If you have been charged with DUI, it is likely that the state will use Drug Recognition Experts (DRE) against you.  The lawyers at Villani & DeLuca have had years of success in challenging the validity of such experts.  The state’s case against most clients is rarely as cut and dry as defendant’s are led to believe.  If you have been charged with a DUI, contact the law office of Villani & DeLuca immediately.

Villani & DeLuca is Your New Jersey DUI Law Firm

If you have been charged with a DWI or DUI you need to call an experienced New Jersey criminal defense attorney to protect your rights. Partner, Carmine R. Villani, Esq. has a wealth of experience in New Jersey criminal defense having served as municipal prosecutor and municipal public defender in numerous municipalities in Ocean County and Monmouth County throughout his 20+ year legal career.  Contact the experienced NJ criminal defense attorneys of Villani & DeLuca, P.C. for a free initial consultation. Call 732-965-3350 today!

home-publications