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Consequences For Getting A Drug DUI In New York

With all of the attention being focused on alcohol-related DUIs and DWIs, it can be easy to forget that “intoxication” also refers to using drugs and operating a motor vehicle. In the State of New York, this offense is called Driving While Ability Impaired by Drugs, or DWAI Drugs, and it carries with it many of the same penalties as a DWI charge. There are a couple of big differences, though.

Differences between a Regular DUI and a Drug DUI in New York

One of the most important differences that everyone needs to know is that the drug that allegedly impaired you doesn’t have to be an illegal substance like marijuana, cocaine, or heroin. You are just as likely to be charged with DWAI-Drugs if the supposedly impairing substance was purchased over the counter or prescribed to you by your doctor. The only thing that matters to the arresting officer is whether that substance impaired your ability to operate a vehicle.

In fact, the prosecution in New York DWAI-Drugs cases only has to show that the driver was using the drugs in question while they were driving, and that the use prevented them from operating the vehicle free of impairment.

It’s not all gloom and doom, however. One of the positive differences between being charged with a DUI versus a DWAI-Drugs charge is that the latter charge does not require that your license be automatically suspended while the case is pending. And unlike in cases involving alcohol, where the prosecution only has to prove that the defendant had a specific blood-alcohol level above the legal amount allowed by law, with drug DUI cases, they are saddled with the more vague and potentially more difficult task of proving that the drugs they took actually impaired the driver.

Furthermore, although the impairing drug doesn’t have to be illegal to use, in order to it to count in court as a valid drug that can cause impairment, it has to be listed under the New York State Public Health Law as a “controlled substance.” Be aware, though, that if you were drinking and using drugs, your charge will be for DWAI-A/D (impairment due to using both alcohol and drugs), and the laws for this charge don’t include any language about the drug in question needing to be on the Health Law list. When you hire a New York criminal DUI attorney, make sure that they are familiar with all of the little wrinkles in the law such as this one.

Drug DUI Penalties in the State of New York

While a DWAI-Drugs charge is only a misdemeanor in New York, that does not mean that it is something that should be taken lightly. If you are convicted, the fines and other expenses associated with the charge will probably run you somewhere from $1,000-$2,000, and your license will be revoked – even if it is just your first offense! Worse, you could face jail time, and a drug DUI conviction will stay on your driving record for at least a decade. You can bet that that’s going to affect your car insurance rates.

Getting a DWAI can also cause problems you would probably never even think of, such as the ability of other countries to refuse to let you in, and the loss of a job that requires you to drive for your work. Also, if you were to receive a second DWAI-Drugs arrest any time in the next 10 years, it could become a felony and bring with it enhanced penalties.

Last but certainly not least, just like any other criminal charge you can receive, it will mean that you have a permanent criminal record that is going to show up every time you have to go through a background check. This can make it a lot harder for you to find work, get an apartment, or successfully apply for credit cards and loans.

Get a Good New York Criminal DUI Attorney to Fight Your Drug DUI

With such complicated statutes and laws, you want to make sure that the person fighting for your rights is up-to-date on the latest chances in the drug DUI laws and understands the science behind measuring impairment. Your best chance at receiving a positive outcome is to retain the services of an experienced New York criminal DUI attorney as soon as possible.

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About the Author

NY Criminal & DWI Defense attorneys at Grizopoulos & Poryz provide dedicated and compassionate legal representation for all types of criminal cases throughout New York.