Can You Lose Your License on a Drug Charge in NJ?

License Loss For a Drug Conviction in New Jersey

One of the must frequently asked questions we receive when being consulted by a potential client facing a drug charge is “Will I Lose My License”? In short, pursuant to NJSA 2C:35-16, anyone convicted of a drug offense shall lose their license for a period of not less than six months but not more than two years. In other words, the loss of license is considered mandatory. That is unless the Court finds compelling circumstances warranting an exception to the rule. So, the key to avoiding the mandatory loss of license is putting forth enough compelling reasons that would warrant the Court to make an exception. If the court does not make an exception and a license loss is imposed, there are no hardship license or work license available.

At Keith Oliver Criminal Law, our criminal defense attorneys are well aware of how precious a drivers license is and the devastating impacts a loss of license would have on someone’s life. Our attorneys have been extremely successfully throughout their careers helping clients avoid the mandatory loss of license. If you would like to speak to one of our Monmouth County based criminal defense attorneys today about your options, then please contact our Middletown office at 732.858.6959. One of our lawyers would be glad to go sit down and discuss the specifics of your case and formulate a game plan that works best to protect your license. Our office serves all of Monmouth County, including Middletown, Howell, HolmdelTinton Falls, Eatontown, Ocean Township, Wall Township as well as the shore towns like Belmar, Manasquan, Bradley Beach, Long Branch and Asbury Park. If you have any questions whatsoever, please do not hesitate to call, as always our initial consultations are free of costs.

What Kind of Drug Offenses are Subject to the Mandatory License Loss?

Pursuant to NJSA 2C:35-16, all drug offenses found under NJSA 2C:35, which include but are not limited too, the possession of controlled dangerous substance (CDS), the possession of CDS with the intent to distribute, distribution of CDS, manufacturing of CDS and all drug paraphernalia offenses found under NJSA 2C:36 are subject to the mandatory loss of license. Some of the most common drug offenses charged in Monmouth County include the following:

 How to Avoid a Mandatory Loss of License on a Drug Offense

NJSA 2C:35-16, Forfeiture or postponement of driving privileges, states in pertinent part:

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.

So, as touched upon above, the key to avoiding the loss of license explaining to the court enough compelling circumstances that warrant you obtaining an exception. Since this is considered an exception to the otherwise mandatory rule, the circumstances must be compelling and not routine. As such, the Judge is required to balance the specific reasons on an individualized basis and assess whether or not compelling circumstances have been provided. The statute states that “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”. This is no easy task and since this is an exception to the rule, the Judges are required to grant the exception only when warranted. This is something that is very difficult to undue, that is why we strongly suggest that you consult with an attorney prior to appearing in courts on a drug charge.

What about Possession of CDS in a Motor Vehicle Ticket?

Furthermore, it is important to note here, that this license suspension is separate and apart from any potential license suspension under NJSA 39:4-49.1, Possession of a Controlled Dangerous Substance in a Motor Vehicle. This offense typically goes hand and hand with most drug charges in New Jersey provided a motor vehicle was involved in some fashion during the incident. Pursuant to NJSA 39:4-49.1, anyone convicted of this offense must forfeit their license for a period of two years. Furthermore, no exceptions apply. This offense is truly mandatory.

Drug Charge Defense Attorneys in Monmouth County NJ

Keith Oliver Criminal Law is a Monmouth County based criminal defense firm that has been helping those accused of drug crimes throughout the County avoid the otherwise mandatory loss of license that comes with any drug conviction. So regardless of whether you are facing a heroin distribution, marijuana possession or possession of a Oxycontin with the intent to distribute charge, we can help. To set up a free initial consultation today, please contact our office at 732.858.6959 or you can try contacting us online. A loss of license will almost certainly have a devastating impact on anyone’s life. In other words, this is not something to take lightly. We appear in Courts throughout the County, including Colts Neck, Atlantic HighlandsHazlet, Freehold, Matawan, Union Beach, Sea Girt and Middletown.

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.