Driving Under the Influence of Drugs in New York

Legal News GavelIf you have been charged with driving under the influence, you need to reach out to a seasoned New York DWI attorney who understands this area of law. At the Law Offices of Mark A. Siesel, we can examine the facts of your case and make sure that none of your rights were violated when you were stopped or arrested. With 31 years of experience, we are dedicated to providing strong, effective, and experienced advocacy throughout the entire legal process.

In New York, the basic offense of driving while intoxicated (DWI) consists of operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher. In other words, someone with a BAC of 0.08 percent or more is legally considered drunk or intoxicated. DWI is not the only alcohol-related charge that New York drivers potentially face. Drivers could also face a charge of driving while ability impaired (DWAI), which is charged when a person’s BAC is between 0.05 percent and 0.07 percent, a lower threshold than a DWI.

When a person operates a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs, that person can be charged with a DWAID – driving while ability impaired by drugs. This charge is specifically for impairment by a controlled substance, regardless of whether those drugs were legal, illegal, or prescription. However, the particular impairing drug must be listed as a controlled substance under the New York State Public Health Law. Thus, impairment by some drugs may not form the basis of a DWAID charge.

It is important to note that this is different from the lesser charge of driving while ability impaired (DWAI). In New York, doctors now often approve medical marijuana as treatment for pain management. As a result, more people have been operating a motor vehicle under the influence of marijuana. An arrest for a DWAID is typically based on:  i) driving behavior observed by an officer, and ii) an admission by the person that they had used drugs. A first DWAID charge is a misdemeanor. A misdemeanor conviction for driving while impaired by drugs can carry serious penalties, including:

  • Up to one year in jail;
  • A mandatory suspension of your driver’s license for at least six months;
  • Monetary fines between $500 and $1,000; and
  • Three years of probation.

However, a second DWAID charge within 10 years is considered a Class E Felony, punishable by up to a four-year prison sentence, a fine of up to $5,000, and a license suspension for a year.

You should be aware that just because you have been charged with a DWAID does not automatically mean you are guilty. The burden of proof in these cases is on the state to establish the elements of a DWAID “beyond a reasonable doubt,” the highest evidentiary standard in the legal system. A number of defenses may be applicable in your case that could lead to your charges being reduced or the case being dropped altogether. You can trust that we will work hard to identify any and all potential defenses that could help you beat these charges.

A DWAID conviction can have far-reaching adverse consequences for almost every aspect of a person’s life. If you have been charged with a DWAID, you need to speak to a skilled New York DWAID attorney who can help. At the Law Offices of Mark A. Siesel, we represent clients in all types of DWAI cases and are committed to protecting your rights at every step of the way. To speak to us in more detail about your case, call us at 914-428-7386 or contact us online.

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