Driving Under The Influence of Marijuana

As social attitudes regarding marijuana have changed, so has the drug’s legality. It is now legal in New York to use marijuana for medicinal purposes, Mayor de Blasio’s administration has instructed the NYPD to issue summonses instead of arresting marijuana users, and some lawmakers in Albany are even fighting for the legalization of recreational use. However, though legalization of marijuana use has reemerged as a popular political issue, none of the current legal battles means that there is any change in the treatment of driving while under the influence of the drug. Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI), one of New York’s counterparts to DUI, is a significant charge, and it is essential for all marijuana users to know their rights and restrictions prior to operating any kind of motor vehicle.

DWAI May Be a Less Serious Charge, but It Is Still a Violation.

In New York State, DWAI or Driving While Ability is Impaired tends to carry less severe penalties than a DWI or an Aggravated DWI conviction. A conviction to a DWAI is not a criminal conviction but instead a traffic violation. If you have been charged with a DWAI in New York, you need an experienced New York DWAI Lawyer represent you to protect your driving record and secure your future from a DWAI violation.

Because DWAI Is a Violation, There Are Substantial Consequences.

Driving While Impaired by a Drug (DWAI-Drug) fines range from $500 to $1,000, the maximum jail time is 1 year, and there will be a driver’s license suspension for at least six months. Additional penalties apply to second and third DWAI convictions. Although the penalties are less severe than a DWI, they can have a negative impact, such as markedly higher insurance rates and could impact your job or future employment opportunities.

Certain Police Officers Exist Explicitly to Identify Signs of Intoxication in Drivers.

A DRE, or drug recognition expert, is essentially a special police officer with specific training to examine motorists accused of driving while under the influence of drugs other than alcohol. The DREs inspect motorists to determine, in their opinion, whether these drivers are under the influence of marijuana or some other substance, such as heroin, cocaine, methamphetamines, or another illegal drug. DREs are not as common in the five boroughs as they are in New Jersey, where our firm does much of its casework, but the City of New York does have many of them on payroll.

Marijuana Will Still Show up on a Drug Test Even If Weeks Have Passed Since Consumption…

Marijuana stays within an individual’s system for approximately 30 days. This means that if you smoked or ingested marijuana less than a month before you were pulled over, the marijuana will show up in a urine test. A urine sample can be given at the police department. If you refuse a urine test or another chemical test, there will be a refusal hearing, and a judge may recommend a driver’s license suspension of at least one year.

…And, Ironically, That Fact Can Prove Beneficial to Your Case.

The key to trying to defend against a DWAI charge would be to suggest that the police officer could not prove that you were driving under the influence of marijuana at the time of the operation. It is important that you let your attorney know the circumstances of that DWI case and how you were operating the motor vehicle. Cases in which clients were charged with a driving under the influence of marijuana after being arrested at checkpoints signify that the arresting polices officer did not see much driving. This makes it harder for the State to prove beyond reasonable doubt that you were under the influence if they did not witness any aberrant driving, any difficulty driving, or any traffic infraction.

As marijuana expands in popularity and use, it is important to remember that its gradual movement legalization does not grant its users carte blanche to behave as they wish. Just as with alcohol consumption, ingestion of medical marijuana must be done responsibly, and there is no reason to drive a car, motorcycle, truck, or other motor vehicle while intoxicated. If, however, you have been wrongly charged, and you were not driving under the influence of marijuana when you were stopped by a police officer, you will have legal recourse if you take immediate action. Contact our team of experts in New York DWAI law, and we will advocate for you against the erroneous charge.