What is a DWAI Drug charge in New York?
People sometimes think that only illegal drugs are dangerous to consume before or while driving, but that is not the case. There are a variety of controlled substances, illicit drugs and even legal pharmaceutical drugs that can impair your ability to drive, and if an officer pulls you over and suspects you’re on drugs, you could be charged with a DWAI Drug crime in New York.
Any drug that is on the list of controlled substances other than alcohol can be reason for a DWAI Drug charge. That means even legally prescribed drugs or medications can land you a DWAI Drug charge if they impair your ability to drive.
To be convicted of a DWAI Drug charge in New York, the District Attorney must prove the following:
- You consumed a drug that is listed under NY State Public Health Law 3306.
- After consuming the drug, you drove a motor vehicle.
- The drug impaired your ability to drive.
It is a bit more difficult for a prosecutor to convict a person of a DWAI Drug charge than for a DWI alcohol charge. That’s because unlike DWI charges for alcohol where you can be charged for driving with certain blood alcohol content levels, with a DWAI drug charge the state must prove you were “impaired”—which can be subjective and depend largely on the arresting officer’s observations.
One way the state of New York has tried to more accurately determine if someone is impaired by drugs is to use Drug Recognition Experts (DRE) to evaluate people suspected of driving under the influence of drugs. These experts can be brought to the scene to observe your behavior and determine whether you are impaired by drugs. Although you can be charged with a DWAI Drug offense based off a police officer’s observations and reports, to be convicted you must have been examined by a Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) at the time of the arrest or shortly after.
Although DRE reports carry weight in court, they are not infallible. A Nassau County DWAI Drug crime attorney can investigate the specifics of your case and look for holes in the prosecution. In fact, it is not uncommon for DWAI Drug offense cases to be dismissed in court after evidence is deemed inadmissible. But because the penalties for DWAI Drug offense can be so severe, you need to speak with an experienced DWAI Drug crime defense attorney in NY and begin to prepare a defense.