Ocean County DWI Checkpoints Will Now Include Drug Experts
Earlier this Spring, the Ocean County Prosecutor’s office announced they would continue the annual countwide DWI program. In a prepared statement, Prosecutor Marlene Lynch Ford stating that “the purpose of these efforts is to detect, educate, deter, arrest and vigorously prosecute impaired drivers”.
The checkpoint program is funded in part by the County Freeholders and the state Division of Highway Traffic Safety. Impaired drivers account for nearly 33% of the yearly death toll in Ocean County. As part of the program, two drug recognition experts (DRE) will be added to the checkpoints this year. Their objective will be to detect drivers operating under the influence of narcotics. The use of these experts at DWI checkpoints are part of Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office fight against drugs according to spokesman Al Della Fave. These officers are certified as drug recognition experts and receive specialized training enabling them to determine if an individual is under the influence of narcotics.
If an individual is charged with DWI for drugs/marijuana in New Jersey, the prosecuting lawyer will is required to present evidence that they were under the influence of marijuana while operating a motor vehicle. Both judges and prosecutors are tough on drug-related crimes, and that trickles down to police officers as well. Prosecutors can use the testimony of the drug recognition expert (DRE) who examined the driver’s vital signs and responsiveness to motor skill and vision tests at the checkpoint or police station. They may also use the results of a field sobriety test, and they will certainly use the results of blood and/or urine tests in determining intoxication. A DRE’s opinion is based on observations made at the scene and police stations. A DRE’s opinion regarding drug intoxication should be consistent with the ensuing toxicology report resulting from a blood/urine test. A DRE’s observations and opinion may be challenged by a skilled DWI defense attorney.