Driver’s License Suspension for Drug Charges in NJ

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Stafford NJ Drug Charge Defense Attorneys

In New Jersey, people charged with drug crimes are subject to many penalties. If convicted of any drug related offense, you may be ordered to serve time in jail, be on probation, and to pay substantial fines and penalties. A lesser known penalty available to the courts is a mandatory loss of license between 6 and 24 months. Unfortunately, a loss of license is not limited to cases involving DUI and is required in all cases involving drugs and paraphernalia. Our attorneys have extensive experience in handling drug cases and have been successful in avoiding mandatory license suspensions for clients in Ocean County and throughout New Jersey. For help with a drug case in Lacey, Stafford, Berkeley Twp, Brick, Toms River, Seaside Heights, Point Pleasant, or another town, contact us at (848) 238-2100. Our experienced Ocean County drug defense lawyers will discuss your specific situation in a convenient free consultation.

Will I Lose my License for a Drug Charge in New Jersey?

New Jersey law allows for a license suspension in all drug-related crimes. Specifically, N.J.S.A 2C:35-16 states that for any drug related offense any “person convicted of or adjudicated delinquent” shall “forfeit his right to operate a motor vehicle over the highways of this State” “not less than six months or more than two years.” This means that the court is required to take your license. People with out of state licenses would not be able to drive in New Jersey during the period of suspension. Whether you are required to go to municipal court or superior court, you are subject to driver’s license suspension in a drug case. Common crimes and disorderly person’s offenses for which your license or driving privileges may be suspended are:

  • Possession of a controlled dangerous substance (CDS): Under this charge, a person who has in his possession such substances as marijuana, cocaine, benzos, heroin, muscle relaxers, crack, meth, molly, MDMA, and synthetic marijuana will be subject to a suspension. The substances named above represent the more common substances for which a person receives a license suspension, but the law allows for the suspension for possession of any controlled dangerous for which you needed a prescription as well. For example, if your friend gave you a Xanax, your license can be suspended because you did not have a prescription.
  • Distribution or Possession with the Intent to Distribute CDS: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th degree crimes (indictable crimes/felonies). Any person convicted of or pleading guilty selling drugs for profit, distributing some to a friend, or possessing a quantity of drugs consistent with “dealing”, you may lose your license from 5-24 months.
  • Disorderly persons offenses of possession and paraphernalia:. Possessing a small amount of marijuana such as a joint or shake will require a loss of license. Similarly, common charges of drug paraphernalia will require a suspension of your driving privileges. This means that you can lose your license if you possess a needle, chore boy, spoon, rubber band, pipe, bag, or straw. Even if your case resolves via a “failure to turnover charge,” you will lose your license.
  • PTI and Conditional Discharge cases: In most PTI or conditional discharge cases, there is no plea of guilty and therefore, a suspension is not required. Any suspension would be discretionary. If the prosecutor or criminal division requires a suspension as part of the acceptance into PTI, the Judge still has the authority to allow you to keep your license.

Are there Exceptions to the Mandatory License Suspension for a Drug Crime in NJ?

There are certain exceptions to the license suspension provision described above. This provision of the law states that a judge does not have to suspend the license if “the court finds compelling circumstances warranting an exception.” Specifically, your attorney must demonstrate to the court that a license suspension will result in an extreme hardship to you and there are no alternative modes of transportation. For example, if you work, need to get to probation, are required to get to drug treatment, or need your license for your family responsibilities, there is a chance that your license will not be suspended.

How would Hiring a Lawyer Help Me Avoid a Suspended Driver’s License in Ocean County NJ?

Hiring an experienced attorney can make a substantial difference in having your license suspended or not. Experienced attorneys who handle drug cases regularly, such as ours, know how to navigate the courts. We will first zealously defend your case in pursuit of a dismissal and if then seek to minimize penalties if the charges cannot be dismissed outright. In doing so, we can carefully craft plea agreements that do not require license suspensions. For example, amending a charge to something that does not require a suspension happens regularly. Similarly, familiarity with the courts assist in negotiations with prosecutors and the criminal divisions to avoid suspensions. Additionally, our attorneys are familiar with the courts enough to know what the judges require in the application to forego the suspension and we can help with the legal exception to the suspension requirement. Contact our firm today at (848) 238-2100 to discuss representation in your drug case.

William Proetta

With more than a decade of experience defending clients against criminal charges, founding partner William A. Proetta has successfully handled and tried thousands of cases, from DWI to murder. As a New Jersey native, he has focused his career on helping people in the area where he grew up, serving Middlesex, Ocean, Hudson, and Union counties.