Can a Drug Charge Cause Me to lose My License in NJ?

One of the most crippling penalties associated with any drug charge conviction in New Jersey, outside of the potential jail sentence, is the mandatory loss of license. Pursuant to NJSA 2C:35-16, anyone convicted in New Jersey of drug offense, whether it be simple possession of marijuana all the way up to leader of a drug trafficking network will be facing a mandatory loss of their driving privileges unless court finds there are enough compelling circumstances warranting an exception. As you will see below, this loss of license must be not less than six (6) months but not more than two (2) years.

Mandatory Loss of License for Drug Charges in NJ

This is just one of the countless reasons that if you have unfortunately found yourself being charged with a drug offense that you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Throughout our careers we have defend countless individuals charged with possessing a controlled dangerous substance and only in the extremely rare cases, have we been unable to avoid a license loss. If you would like to speak to one of the Mercer County criminal defense lawyers at Keith Oliver Criminal Law about your options, then please contact our Hamilton Office at 609-789-0779. We serve all of Mercer County, including towns like Lawrenceville, Ewing, Hamilton, Robbinsville, West Windsor, East Windsor, Hightstown, Princeton and Trenton. Please do not take these charges lightly, as if the suspension is imposed, it can be come extremely difficult to reverse.

What Drug Charges Require a Mandatory Loss of License?

First and foremost, it is important to note here that this mandatory loss of license comes into play even for disorderly persons offense level marijuana possession charge (under 50 grams). Pursuant to NJSA 2C:35-16, anyone convicted of a violation of NJSA 2C:35, which covers all drug possession, drug distribution, drug possession with the intent to distribute and drug manufacturing charges as well as all NJSA 2C:36, which covers all drug paraphernalia charges will be subject to a mandatory loss of license, ranging anywhere from six months to two years.

NJSA 2C:35-16 states in pertinent part:

a. In addition to any disposition authorized by this title, the provisions of section 24 of P.L.1982, c.77 (C.2A:4A-43), or any other statute indicating the dispositions that can be ordered for an adjudication of delinquency, and notwithstanding the provisions of subsection c. of N.J.S.2C:43-2, a person convicted of or adjudicated delinquent for a violation of any offense defined in this chapter or chapter 36 of this title shall forthwith forfeit his right to operate a motor vehicle over the highways of this State for a period to be fixed by the court at not less than six months or more than two years which shall commence on the day the sentence is imposed unless the court finds compelling circumstances warranting an exception.

Can I Avoid a License Loss on a Marijuana Charge?

Yes but as touched upon above, in order to do so the Court must conclude that their is enough compelling circumstances to warrant such an exception.

What is Compelling Circumstances?

According to the statute, “compelling circumstances warranting an exception exist if the forfeiture of the person’s right to operate a motor vehicle over the highways of this State will result in extreme hardship and alternative means of transportation are not available”. The key is determining what qualifies as an “extreme hardship“. This is where an experienced criminal defense lawyer can make a tremendous difference.

What if I Do Not have a License?

If the Defendant is less than seventeen years old at the time of the incident, the Court shall impose a loss of license for a time period of not less than six months but not greater than two years to commence when the Defendant reaches the age seventeen.

How to Avoid a Loss of License on a Drug Charge in NJ

If you or a loved one has been charged with a drug offense it is imperative that you speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible about your options. As you can see from above, the potential loss of license is mandatory and it is the Defendant’s burden to put forth enough compelling reasons to convince the Judge that it would result in an extreme hardship. If you would like to speak to one of the lawyers at Keith Oliver Criminal Law about your options, then please contact our Hamilton Office at 609-789-0779 or you can try contacting us online. Our Mercer County criminal defense attorneys have been helping those avoid loss of licenses on drug charges in courts throughout the State for the better part of the last decade. If you have any questions whatsoever, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Author: Keith G. Oliver

Founding partner Keith G. Oliver has a passion for helping people who are caught up in the criminal justice system. He believes that everyone has a right to be presumed innocent, and that one mistake shouldn’t define a person forever. This passion drives Mr. Oliver to tirelessly fight for his clients and pursue the best possible outcome in every case.