State v Santos Morales A-3283-16T1 Burlington County
Have you been charge with a DWI while being under the influence of only marijuana?
Have you been charged with any criminal offense involving being under the influence of marijuana?
As New Jersey heads towards legalization of marijuana this issue is going to come up more often. What is the effect of possessing marijuana legally and operating under the influence?
Submitted by New Jersey DWI Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark.
This case addresses these issues head on in a very significant manner. In this case the defendant was charged with the vehicular homicide arising out of a car crash. After blood test return findings of THC, the hallucinogenic drug contained in marijuana, the state indicted the defendant arising out of the death involving the DWI.
The state hired an expert to provide an opinion regarding the amount of THC in the defendant’s blood stream and how that could have a intoxicating affect on the defendants ability to drive a vehicle. In this case the key issue was the fact that the defense attorney did not hire his own expert.
The defense filed a motion to bar the state’s expert from testifying at trial. The judge, at a R104 hearing barred the expert from testifying after he conducted his own research regarding the expert’s foundation and expert opinions.
The Appellate Division reversed the trial court ruling that the trial judge made a error of law by doing his own investigation and research we well as recognizing that this expert had previously been qualified on numerous occasions with regards to this very subject matter in this very court and another courts in the region. The case was sent back to the trial court and the expert was authorized to testify with regards to the breakthrough levels of THC in a defendant system that would cause both intoxication and impairment to operate a motor vehicle under the motor vehicle code which may have contributed to the reckless conduct need for the conviction of vehicular homicide.
These are substantial issues which come into play and these are very serious cases. New Jersey’s eventual legalization of marijuana in the next 6 to 18 months is going to vastly increase the number of cases with this very issue in play. The need to hire experts to address these issues will be substantial and the need to hire these experts to effectively and adequately provide a defense in these cases will be needed. Has your lawyer don’t this yet? You need a lawyer who knows how to defend these cases today!
Jeffrey S. Hark, Esq.