Will I Lose My License if I’m Convicted of a Drug Offense in NJ?
May 23, 2018
If you have been charged with a drug offense in Union County, New Jersey, you are facing many potential consequences if convicted—including losing your driver’s license. In New Jersey, if you are charged with possession or use of a controlled dangerous substance (CDS), the judge may revoke your license for a period of 6 months to 2 years. The length of time the judge may revoke it for is influenced by several different factors including the specific facts of your case, the severity of your offense, and your past criminal history.
Losing your license can interfere with your life in a significant way. It can impede your ability to get to work, limit the jobs you can take due to distance and logistics, negatively impact your social life, make it difficult to attend to family responsibilities like taking your kids to school and activities, and severely limit your overall freedom.
The likelihood that you will lose your license for a controlled dangerous substance offense in New Jersey—if convicted—is very high. Under New Jersey law, if you are convicted of certain drug offenses, revocation of your license is mandatory. For example, if convicted of marijuana possession, your driving privileges will be suspended for a period of no less than six months. This is also true in cases involving possession of heroin, cocaine, and prescription drugs like Percocet and Oxycodone. The only exception to this mandate is if you can prove that you have compelling circumstances that warrant an exception, so that losing your license would cause you extreme hardship and you do not have any alternative means of transportation available.
Remember that this does not mean you qualify for an exception to the mandatory drug offense license revocation just because losing your license would be very inconvenient for you and you do not have someone who can always give you a ride. Losing a license is inconvenient for everyone. This exception only applies in cases of extreme hardship and where no other alternative—including walking, biking, and public transportation—is available.
Notably, if your drug charges arose from a traffic stop, you may also be charged with possession of CDS in a motor vehicle. This is a separate traffic violation that entails a mandatory two-year license suspension for those convicted. The penalties for CDS in a car will be issued in addition to any other consequences imposed in connection with your drug charges.
Even if you might qualify for an exception if you are convicted of a drug offense that mandates license revocation, the best time to try to avoid this penalty is before you are convicted. There are certain programs available in New Jersey that aim to rehabilitate drug offenders. Particularly if you are a first time offender, you may qualify for a diversionary program like Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI) or conditional discharge. If you participate in PTI or if you receive a conditional discharge, the judge may still revoke your license for a period time, but it is not mandatory.
Charged with Drugs in Union County, NJ?
If you have been charged with a drug offense in Union County, New Jersey, it is important that you find an experienced criminal defense lawyer to represent you. While license revocation can really interrupt and interfere with your life, it is only one of the penalties you are facing with a drug charge in NJ. In addition to license revocation, you may also face time in prison, significant fines, and a criminal record. Contact the lawyers at Proetta & Oliver to review your case and help fight the charges against you. With offices in Cranford, our criminal defense attorneys represent clients throughout the Union County area, including in Scotch Plains, New Providence, Mountainside, Berkeley Heights, and Elizabeth. Call (732) 659-9600 or contact us online for a free consultation about your specific drug charges.