New Jersey law prohibits you from operating a motor vehicle while knowingly possessing any type of dangerous controlled substances. If a police officer pulls you over for a traffic violation and finds drugs in your car, you will face serious charges of drug possession. This is a motor vehicle offense under N.J.S.A. 39:4-49.1, rather than a criminal charge.
If you or someone you know has been charged with drug possession, you need to immediately consult with an attorney in New Jersey to protect your rights.
What The State Must Prove
In order for the state to convict you on charges for driving with a controlled substance, the following five elements must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt:
- You were actually operating a motor vehicle
- You were driving on a highway
- You were knowingly in the possession
- The objects you were in possession of are legally defined and identified as a controlled substance
- These items were located on your person or within your vehicle.
If the state is able to prove each of these five elements beyond a reasonable doubt, you will be subject to serious penalties, including fines and surcharges as well as a two year loss of your driving privileges.
Defense Strategies for Driving While In Possession of Drugs
Just because you face charges of driving while in possession of drugs or a controlled substance, it does mean that you are automatically guilty and should be convicted of the charges. With the help of a New Jersey attorney who specifically handles these types of cases, you may be able to devise a defense that will dismiss that charges against you.
Depending on the specific facts of your case, there may be various defenses that may help dismiss these charges and avoid serious penalties. One defense includes proving that you were not operating your vehicle on a highway. Another common defense used by attorneys fighting driving while in possession of drug charges involves showing that you did not procure the controlled substance or were not aware of it.
When Dismissal Is Not an Option
If you are ultimately charged with an offense of possession and a dismissal is not possible, the traffic offense can be merged into the criminal offense or dismissed as part of a plea bargain. You may also be eligible to receive a conditional discharge for a diversionary drug program.
To determine the best possible way to protect your legal rights and to either dismiss or reduce the penalties, it is imperative that you immediately consult with an attorney who specifically handles these types of cases.
If you or a loved one has been be charged with motor vehicle operation while in possession of drugs or other controlled substances, the attorneys at the Law Offices of Dan T. Matrafajlo can help. For more information or to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys, please call us at (908) 248-4404.