As more and more states continue to legalize recreational marijuana, it can be difficult to keep up with the laws of your state. As of March 31, 2021, New York legalized the recreational use of marijuana among adults. And while this new legalization could help to increase jobs and tax revenue, it will likely also mean more incidents of driving under the influence of marijuana.
The New Law
According to state law, New York now allows for adults over the age of 21 to use marijuana in public. However, this does not include the use of the drug while in a motor vehicle. In fact, it is still very much illegal to drive while under the influence of marijuana in New York. If someone does so, they can be charged with Driving While Ability Impaired by Drugs (DWAI). Under this law:
“No person shall operate a motor vehicle while the person’s ability to operate such a motor vehicle is impaired by the use of a drug as defined in this chapter.” The world “drug” includes marijuana (cannabis). Additionally, under state law, if you are operating a motor vehicle, you have already consented to a chemical test (i.e. blood, urine, breath, or saliva) in order to determine if there are reasonable grounds to believe that the driver is under the influence.
It’s important to note that, unlike alcohol, there is no minimum amount of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in marijuana, that must be detected to be charged. Additionally, THC can be detectable in blood for up to 7 days. This is why it is so important to ensure that you won’t have any THC in your blood should you be stopped on the road. But since the passing of the new law concerning recreational marijuana, the smell of marijuana alone is no longer considered probable cause to search the vehicle for marijuana.
Penalties for a DWAI Offense
Should you be stopped and charged with a DWAI offense, you may be sentenced to a hefty jail time and/or a large fine. More specifically, a first DWAI offense is considered a misdemeanor and can be punishable by up to one year in jail, a $500 to $,000 fine, and a 6-month revocation of your license.
If it is found to be your second offense, it is considered a Class E felony and you can receive a jail sentence, a $1,000 to $5,000 fine, and a one-year revocation of your license.
Should someone be pulled over and charged with DWAI but have a passenger in the vehicle under the age of 16, it can be considered a felony – even if it’s a first offense. But if the passenger under the age of 16 is injured or killed, it can be considered a Class B or Class C felony and can result in 4 to 25 years in jail. Those who are charged with a DWAI are generally required to complete an alcohol and drug rehabilitation program and may have to do drug screenings or attend a Victim Impact Program (VIP). Those found guilty of DWAI may also have to pay a Driver Responsibility Assessment fee of $250 per year for three years. If the person refuses to pay, their license could be suspended until the fee is fully paid.
It’s important to note that it is irrelevant as to whether the person charged with DWAI was driving after using medical or recreational marijuana. It only matters that you test positive.
New York Traffic Ticket Attorneys
If you have been charged with any traffic violation, including DWAI in New York, it is best to contact an experienced New York traffic ticket attorney as soon as possible.
A knowledgeable and experienced traffic ticket attorney understands the relevant laws. AutoTrafficTickets.com can help you to receive the best outcome. To learn more or to schedule a consultation, contact us today!
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