Drugged Driving in New York

In New York, operating a vehicle while intoxicated with a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of at least .08 percent can result in a DWI charge. On the other hand, operating a vehicle while impaired by drugs or a combination of alcohol and drugs can lead to a driving while ability impaired (DWAI) charge.

Since law enforcement officials cannot determine a person’s BAC when consuming drugs, a suspected drugged driver is considered “impaired” if—as a result of consuming drugs or both alcohol and drugs—his/her ability to drive a vehicle in a “prudent and reasonable” manner has been impaired “to any extent.” Additionally, a person could be arrested for drugged driving even if he/she isn’t driving—but rather getting into the vehicle and starting the engine.

New York’s drugged driving law prohibits operating a vehicle while impaired by any of the following drugs:

  • Stimulants such as cocaine and methamphetamine
  • Hallucinogens such as LSD and magic mushrooms
  • Opioids such as heroin, OxyContin, codeine, and hydrocodone
  • Depressants such as Xanax, Valium, and over-the-counter medicines
  • Cannabis

You cannot claim that you are legally entitled to use a drug as a valid legal defense. In other words, even if you were prescribed a controlled substance by a doctor, you can still be charged with a DWAI.

When it comes to the penalties for a DWAI, there are generally the same as a DWI. However, DWAI offenders do not need to install ignition interlock devices (IIDS) on their vehicles.

The following are the penalties for New York drugged driving offenses:

  • First Drugged DWAI (Class A Misdemeanor) – A conviction results in a jail sentence of up to one year, a maximum $1,000 fine, and driver’s license revocation for at least six months.
  • Second Drugged DWAI in 10 years (Class E Felony) – A conviction results in a prison term of up to four years, a maximum $5,000 fine, and driver’s license revocation for at least one year.
  • Third Drugged DWAI in 10 years (Class D Felony) – A conviction results in a prison sentence of up to seven years, a maximum $10,000 fine, and driver’s license revocation for at least one year.

Remember, the implied consent law also applies to drugged drivers. If you refuse to take a blood, urine, or saliva test, a first-time refusal leads to driver’s license suspension for up to one year. In addition, your refusal can be used as evidence against you.

If you have been arrested for drugged driving in Rochester, contact Christopher K. Rodeman Attorney at Law today at (585) 928-4193 and schedule a free consultation.