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NJ License Suspension for Possession or Use of a Controlled Dangerous Substance Lawyers

 

NJ License Suspension for Possession or Use of a Controlled Dangerous Substance Lawyers

In New Jersey, getting convicted of a drug offense can result in losing your driver’s license – even if you weren’t driving or impaired at the time. This controversial practice is known as a drug-related license suspension.

Losing driving privileges for drug possession feels unfair to many people. But thousands face this harsh penalty every year in New Jersey. The only way to avoid suspension and keep your license is with an aggressive legal defense.

This article covers the laws that trigger drug-related license suspensions in New Jersey. It also explains how an experienced traffic lawyer can help you fight to protect your driving privileges.

New Jersey’s Drug License Suspension Laws

New Jersey has two main laws that impose license suspensions for drug crimes:

  • N.J.S.A. 2C:35-16 – Mandatory suspension for certain drug convictions
  • N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10 – Discretionary suspension for possession of CDS (controlled dangerous substance)

Under N.J.S.A. 2C:35-16, a 6-24 month suspension is required if you’re convicted of:

  • Possessing CDS in a motor vehicle
  • Distributing, dispensing, or possessing CDS with intent to distribute
  • Possessing drug paraphernalia

The suspension takes effect immediately upon conviction. There are no exceptions or waivers – it’s mandatory. [1]

Christine Twomey
Christine Twomey
2024-03-21
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Alex Zhik contacted me almost immediately when I reached out to Spodek for a consultation and was able to effectively communicate the path forward/consequences of my legal issue. I immediately agreed to hire Alex for his services and did not regret my choice. He was able to cover my case in court (with 1 day notice) and not only was he able to push my case down, he carefully negotiated a dismissal of the charge altogether. I highly recommend Spodek, and more specifically, Alex Zhik for all of your legal issues. Thanks guys!
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2024-03-18
Thanks again Spodek law firm, particularly Esq Claire Banks who stood right there with us up to the finish line. Attached photos taken right outside of the court building and the smile on our faces represented victory, a breath of fresh air and satisfaction. We are very happy that this is over and we can move on with our lives. Thanks Spodek law 🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🙌🏼❤️
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Believe every single review here about Alex Z!! From our initial consultation, it was evident that Alex possessed a profound understanding of criminal law and a fierce dedication to his clients rights. Throughout the entirety of my case, Alex exhibited unparalleled professionalism and unwavering commitment. What sets Alex apart is not only his legal expertise but also his genuine compassion for his clients. He took the time to thoroughly explain my case, alleviating any concerns I had along the way. His exact words were “I’m not worried about it”. His unwavering support and guidance were invaluable throughout the entire process. I am immensely grateful for Alex's exceptional legal representation and wholeheartedly recommend his services to anyone in need of a skilled criminal defense attorney. Alex Z is not just a lawyer; he is a beacon of hope for those navigating the complexities of the legal system. If you find yourself in need of a dedicated and competent legal advocate, look no further than Alex Z.
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I don’t know where to start, I can write a novel about this firm, but one thing I will say is that having my best interest was their main priority since the beginning of my case which was back in Winter 2019. Miss Claire Banks, one of the best Attorneys in the firm represented me very well and was very professional, respectful, and truthful. Not once did she leave me in the dark, in fact she presented all options and routes that could possibly be considered for my case and she reinsured me that no matter what I decided to do, her and the team will have my back and that’s exactly what happened. Not only will I be liberated from this case, also, I will enjoy my freedom and continue to be a mother to my first born son and will have no restrictions with accomplishing my goals in life. Now that’s what I call victory!! I thank the Lord, My mother, Claire, and the Spodek team for standing by me and fighting with me. Words can’t describe how grateful I am to have the opportunity to work with this team. I’m very satisfied, very pleased with their performance, their hard work, and their diligence. Thank you team!
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N.J.S.A 2C:35-10 allows a judge to suspend licenses for 6-24 months of those convicted of simple CDS possession. Unlike the mandatory law, this suspension is discretionary based on the circumstances. [2]

Both laws apply even if you weren’t driving at the time of the drug offense. The state legislature believes suspending driving privileges deters illegal drug use.

Defending Against Drug License Suspensions

The best way to avoid suspension under these laws is by fighting the underlying drug conviction itself. If your attorney can get the charges reduced or dismissed, there will be no grounds for suspension.

Possible strategies in drug possession cases include:

  • Filing a motion to suppress evidence due to an illegal search
  • Disputing whether the substance was actually a CDS
  • Arguing you didn’t knowingly possess the CDS
  • Negotiating to plead guilty to non-CDS charges

If you already pled guilty or were convicted of a CDS offense, your lawyer can still argue against license suspension at sentencing. They may cite factors like:

  • You need to drive for work or school
  • You have a clean driving record
  • You’re seeking drug treatment
  • The drug offense was unrelated to driving

Judges have discretion to waive suspension under N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10. But the mandatory suspension under N.J.S.A. 2C:35-16 is harder to avoid after conviction.

Appealing the Conviction

If arguments against suspension at sentencing fail, your attorney can file an appeal. Appealing the conviction itself provides another avenue to fight the suspension.

In State v. Gibson, for example, the court reversed a defendant’s CDS conviction, eliminating the grounds for his license suspension. [3]

On appeal, your lawyer may argue issues like:

  • Illegal search and seizure
  • Incorrect application of the CDS laws
  • Harshness of the sentence
  • Ineffective assistance of counsel

If the appeal succeeds, your drug conviction and suspension will be overturned. But appealing takes time, so you may lose your license temporarily while the case works its way through the courts.

Occupational Licenses

If your license is suspended under N.J.S.A. 2C:35-16 or N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10, immediately apply for an occupational license. Also known as a conditional or restricted license, this allows you to drive for work purposes during a suspension.

To get an occupational license, you must prove to the court that losing your driving privileges would cause serious hardship related to employment, education, medical care, or other key life activities.

In In re Rios, for example, a laborer who lost his license due to a drug conviction qualified for an occupational license. Without it, he couldn’t drive to job sites and faced losing his livelihood. [4]

An experienced attorney can help gather evidence and make the strongest case that you need an occupational license. This allows you to keep driving for essential purposes while fighting the underlying suspension.

License Reinstatement

Getting your full driving privileges back after a drug-related suspension requires going through New Jersey’s license reinstatement process. The steps include:

  1. Completing the suspension term (6-24 months)
  2. Paying a $100 restoration fee to the MVC
  3. Providing proof of valid auto insurance
  4. Passing a standard vision test

An attorney can walk you through the reinstatement process smoothly. They can also advise you on steps to take if the MVC gives you any trouble getting your license back.

For example, in rare cases the MVC may try to impose additional requirements before reinstating you. A lawyer can challenge any unfair conditions and negotiate for full reinstatement of your driving privileges after suspension.

Avoiding Future Suspensions

The best way to avoid losing your license again in the future is by avoiding further drug convictions. But if you do face new drug charges, a skilled criminal defense lawyer may be able to:

  • Get the charges dismissed or reduced to non-CDS offenses
  • Negotiate a plea deal with no license loss penalty
  • File motions to suppress evidence to weaken the prosecution’s case

Vigorous defense against new drug charges reduces the risk of another driver’s license suspension down the road.

If you completed a rehab program after your past suspension, make sure to mention this to your attorney. It shows you’ve taken steps to improve yourself and that further license suspension may be unwarranted.

Don’t Delay Getting Legal Help

The prospect of losing your license due to a drug offense can be scary. But an experienced criminal defense and traffic lawyer can help you navigate New Jersey’s tough drug-related license suspension laws.

From defending your drug charges, to appealing your conviction, to regaining your license, a knowledgeable attorney will aggressively protect your driving privileges at every step.

Don’t wait to seek legal representation if you face drug charges. The sooner you retain a lawyer, the better your chances of avoiding license suspension or getting reinstated quickly.

 

3
https://law.justia.com/cases/new-jersey/appellate-division-published/2019/a0992-17.html
4
https://law.justia.com/cases/new-jersey/appellate-division-published/2019/a2450-17.html

 

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