Drug Use Causing Increasing DWI Dismissals in New Jersey
New Jersey has been seeing an increase in DWI cases being dropped over the past years. Experts have one explanation for this trend, drug use.
Ten years ago in New Jersey, 85% of those who were charged with a DWI were found guilty. Today, that percentage has dropped to 71%. The question as to why that number has dropped. In 2017 alone, 24% of charges where dismissed.
Judge H. Robert Switzer, a retired municipal judge, explained why there has been an increased in DWI cases that are dismissed by saying, "What's happened in the last 10 to 20 years is an exponential increase in the amount of people driving under the influence of drugs."
What do drugs have to do with the drop? There is no way to test someone if they are high. For those under the influence of alcohol a breathalyzer can be used to test if someone is intoxicated, however there is no test for drug use that is comparable. This is a factor law enforcement and experts are taking into consideration with the issues on legalizing marijuana.
Urine tests for drug use do not show law enforcers how much is in the body just that there are drugs in the person's system. Urine tests will also show positive up to 30 days after use. Blood tests are only used in serious/fatal accidents.
Use of prescription drugs have also effected the outcome of DWI cases. An Asbury Park attorney, John Menzel, stated, "If someone looks a little off or odd to the officer and they see prescription drugs somewhere, like in a purse, [they] jump to the conclusion that the driving they saw was due to drugs." Cases have been effected due to medical records.
Experts also point to the fact that lawyers get results from breathalyzer and blood tests thrown out. Someone charged with a DWI cannot take a plea deal, rather they have what is called an alternative disposition.