Operating a Vehicle While in Possession of CDS

Operating a Vehicle While in Possession of CDS

CDS stands for controlled dangerous substances, or drugs to be precise. Apart from getting arrested and risking charges for having a CDS, you face additional liability if you were found driving in the state of New Jersey while in possession of a CDS of any kind.

Whether you accept it or not, there are substances which the state has classified as illegal, regardless of your personal feelings on the matter. Some examples of these substances include marijuana, cocaine, heroin, crystal meth, Molly and MDMA, among others.

Possession of CDS while driving can also apply to the possession of controlled prescription medication without a valid license. While it can attract a separate possession charge, driving while in possession of a CDS is considered a motor vehicle offense.

Operating a Vehicle While in Possession of CDS

Possession of CDS in a Motor Vehicle

License Suspension

Under the NJSA 39:4 - 49:1, a driver can be charged with possession of CDS in a motor vehicle if one of their passengers is caught in possession of a controlled substance less than 50g in weight. Anything above this and it’s a whole different ball game.

The most noteworthy penalty for persons charged with possession of CDS while driving is a compulsory license suspension for not less than two years. In addition, unlike charges for criminal possession, this charge does not afford one the option of making a hardship application to the ruling judge to mitigate or altogether eliminate the sentence.

If you’re convicted of this charge, you WILL lose your driving privileges and license for two years, guaranteed. In addition, hefty fines may be imposed. This is why it’s so important to have the right representation.

Motor vehicle offense

Burden of Proof

For an accused person to be convicted, the state must prove, beyond reasonable doubt, that all five of these occurred to constitute the offense hence secure the conviction:

  • The accused was operating a motor vehicle
  • on a public highway
  • they were knowingly in possession
  • of prescription drugs with no valid prescription or other CDS
  • which were found on the driver, his passengers (with his knowledge) or inside the vehicle

CDS Defense

Based on the above, there are several strategies that can be taken up in defense for this offense:

  • if the motor vehicle was not operated on a highway, the charges will be dismissed
  • if the driver was unaware of the presence of the CDS or did not procure the CDS, the charges will also be dismissed
  • proximity of the drugs to the driver – the more removed they are from the driver the more difficult it is to prove the driver’s knowledge of the offense e.g. if found in the trunk of the car, on passengers, or in a vehicle that doesn’t belong to the driver
Possession of CDS in a Motor Vehicle

Seeking Legal Advice

At Zapicchi & Liller, we have an experienced legal defense team that has litigated hundreds of drug possession and related offenses in the past with an impressive win record.

If you’re facing these charges, you’re looking at some serious penalties, and you need to have well practiced legal representation speaking for you. Call us immediately. We are on your side.

CDS Defense
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