A New Jersey man has pleaded guilty to a single count of causing death with an automobile in the second degree in connection with a traffic accident that claimed the life of a 20-year-old woman. The 25-year-old North Bergen resident could be sent to prison for up to five years when he is sentenced on Aug. 28. Prosecutors also want the man to be sentenced in accordance with the provisions of New Jersey’s No Early Release Act, which would require him to serve at least 85% of his custodial sentence.

The accident in question took place in West New York during the early morning hours of June 18, 2019. According to a police report, the man’s Acura sedan struck an Infiniti sedan after he failed to obey a red light at the intersection of Jefferson Street and 60th Street at approximately 12:30 a.m. A blood sample drawn from the man after he was transported by paramedics to Palisades Medical Center allegedly tested positive for THC, which is the cannabinoid that gives marijuana its psychoactive properties.

The man’s injuries were not considered life threatening, but one of his two passengers was far more seriously hurt. She suffered catastrophic head injuries and was rushed to a nearby trauma center, but efforts to save her were unsuccessful. She died five days later.

The scientific connection between alcohol levels in the blood and intoxication is well-established, but the same cannot be said of THC. The cannabinoid is also detectable in blood samples weeks after marijuana is consumed. When the only evidence of impairment are elevated THC levels that do not prove intoxication beyond reasonable doubt, experienced criminal defense attorneys could argue that DWI charges should be dismissed.