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Driving While Ability Impaired - Drugs

Intoxicated driving laws don't only apply to alcohol. The same laws apply to any substance that can change your perception or your mental and physical capacities.

In fact, intoxicated driving laws can be even more strict. While it takes a certain level of blood-alcohol content for a prosecutor to seek Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) charges, a prosecutor may pursue Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI) - Drugs charges if he or she can prove you consumed any kind of narcotic.

New York DWAI - Drugs Lawyer

Contact Rochelle S. Berliner, a New York drugged driving lawyer, if you've been charged with a DWAI with drugs. She will fight for your rights, and seek to get your charges reduced or dismissed. Call the Law Office of Rochelle S. Berliner at 718-261-5600 today to set up a free consultation to discuss your drug-related Driving While Ability Impaired charge.

The Law Office of Rochelle S. Berliner is based in Queens. She proudly serves those accused of DWAI-Drugs throughout the New York City area, including Brooklyn, Manhattan and the Bronx, as well as Nassau and Suffolk County on Long Island.

Defining New York DWAI - Drugs Laws

New York Vehicle and Traffic Law § 1192 lays out the law for intoxicated driving in New York. Paragraph 4 states simply that no person can drive if that person's ability to drive is impaired by the use of a drug. Paragraph 5 says a person may not drive if impaired by a combination of drugs and alcohol.

Unlike a DWI charge, in which there is a firm definition of "intoxicated" (having a blood-alcohol content of .08 or greater), there is no such firm definition in drugged driving laws. The matter is up to prosecutors on whether to seek charges, which they will do if they feel they have the evidence to convince a jury that drug use had impaired your driving ability. There are a variety of ways police use to determine whether they believe you are on drugs — dilated eyes, smell if the substance was smoked, behavior. They may also attempt to get you to admit to using drugs. Sometimes, the DWAI-Drugs charged may be stacked with a possession charge if the controlled substances were found in your vehicle.

During the arrest, there may be mistakes in police procedure. A criminal defense attorney may be able to find those mistakes and seek to have evidence thrown out.

Penalties for Drugged Driving in New York

A DWAI for drugs should not be confused with a DWAI for alcohol, which has lesser consequences than a DWI. The consequences for a DWAI for drugs, or for a combination of drugs and alcohol, are exactly the same as DWI. In fact, under New York law, they are nearly interchangeable.

For your first DWAI-Drugs charge, there is a mandatory fine of at least $500, up to $1,000, up to a year in jail and your license will be suspended for at least six months. Additionally, you are sure to see your insurance rates go up dramatically once it is reinstated. It is a misdemeanor charge.

However, your second DWAI-Drugs charge within 10 years is a Class E felony, punishable by a minimum fine for$1,000, with a maximum of $5,000 and up to four years in prison. Your license is revoked for at least a year. For a third offense in 10 years, the minimum fine goes up to $2,000, with a maximum of $10,000, and you could be sentenced to up to seven years in prison. Your license will be revoked for at least a year.

For a DWAI with a drug and alcohol combination, the penalties are the same except that a second or third conviction in 10 years leads to an 18-month suspension.

If you have more than five convictions over the course of your lifetime, or have three convictions and another major traffic infraction within 25 years, you will permanently lose your license.

Law Office of Rochelle S. Berliner | Queens Drugged Driving Attorney

A DWAI is a criminal charge. And just like any other criminal charge, the prosecutor must prove his or her case "beyond a reasonable doubt." An experienced New York criminal defense attorney, like Rochelle S. Berliner, will diligently review your case, searching for any reasonable doubt or weaknesses in the case and use it to seek to get your charges reduced or dismissed.

If you've been charged with drugged driving anywhere in the New York area, including Queens County, Kings County, Bronx County, New York County, Suffolk County or Nassau County, contact the Law Office of Rochelle S. Berliner today for a free consultation. You can call 718-261-5600 or submit an online form.

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Rochelle Berliner
Rochelle Berliner

Rochelle Berliner grew up in Queens, NY. She started New York Law School in January 1989 and graduated in June 1991. Immediately after law school, she started working at the New York County District Attorney’s Office, where she stayed for approximately 14 years...

  • National Police Accountability Project
  • National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
  • National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws
  • New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
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