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New York Vehicle & Traffic Law § 1192(4) – Driving While Ability Impaired by Drugs

Experienced NYC Criminal Defense Lawyers Defending Clients Facing Drug DUI Charges in New York

Driving While Ability Impaired by Drugs ("DWAI by Drugs") is a New York DUI law that makes it illegal to operate a vehicle when a driver's ability to do so is impaired by their use of drugs. Driving While Ability Impaired by Drugs is a misdemeanor in most cases; however, DWAI by Drugs can be a felony if you have a DWI-related conviction within the past ten years.

The Elements of DWAI-Drugs in New York

Before a judge or jury can convict anyone of a crime, the government must prove each element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. DWAI is no exception. The elements of Driving While Ability Impaired by Drugs are:

  1. The defendant operated a motor vehicle; and
  2. The defendant did so while their ability to operate the vehicle was impaired because they had consumed drugs.

While the prosecution will often present blood test results to prove that a defendant had consumed drugs, no such evidence is required. In other words, prosecutors can pursue a case of DWAI by drugs without chemical testing if the surrounding circumstances indicate that the defendant was impaired by drugs.

Examples of Driving While Ability Impaired by Drugs

Examples of DWAI by Drugs include:

  • A driver is pulled over after exhibiting dangerous driving behavior, and the officer detects the odor of freshly burnt marijuana, but the driver refuses a blood test; and
  • A driver is given a blood test after causing an accident, and the test indicates the driver had heroin in their system.
Related Offenses to NY Vehicle & Traffic Law § 1192(4)

Often, prosecutors bring Driving While Ability Impaired by Drugs charges along with one or more of the following:

  • Driving While Ability Impaired – N.Y. VTL § 1192(1)
  • Driving While Intoxicated Per Se – N.Y. VTL § 1192(2)
  • Aggravated Driving While Intoxicated Per Se – N.Y. VTL § 1192(2-a)(a)
  • Aggravated Driving While Intoxicated Per Se with a Child – N.Y. VTL § 1192(2-a)(b)
  • Driving While Intoxicated – N.Y. VTL § 1192(3)
  • Driving While Ability Impaired by the Combined Influence of Drugs and Alcohol – N.Y. VTL § 1192(4-a)
  • Aggravated Vehicular Assault – N.Y. Penal Law § 120.04-a
  • Vehicular Assault in the First Degree – N.Y. Penal Law § 120.04
  • Vehicular Assault in the Second Degree – N.Y. Penal Law § 120.03
What Are the Defenses to Driving While Ability Impaired by Drugs?

There are many defenses to charges related to driving under the influence of drugs. Depending on the situation, a successful defense may reduce your sentencing exposure, result in the prosecution withdrawing the case against you, or the jury returning a "not guilty" verdict. The most common defenses include the following:

  • You were not "operating" the vehicle;
  • You were not engaged in dangerous driving behavior;
  • Problems with how the blood draw was conducted;
  • Problems with how your blood sample was stored or processed; and
  • A lack of probable cause to pull you over or demand chemical testing.

In cases where there is no blood-test evidence, it is also a defense to challenge the prosecution's evidence of intoxication. In this situation, a New York DUI defense attorney may also argue that any erratic driving was not the result of your intoxication but due to some other cause.

What Are the Penalties for Violating NY Vehicle & Traffic Law § 1192(4)?

Driving While Ability Impaired by Drugs is a misdemeanor. If you are convicted, you will face a jail sentence of up to a year and a fine between $500 and $1,000. Note that if you have a prior DWI conviction (under any subsection) from within the past ten years, DWAI by Drugs becomes a Class E felony. In this case, a conviction carries a jail sentence of up to four years and a fine between $1,000 and $5,000.

Additionally, after any DWI conviction, the court must impose a probationary sentence. For up to a year of your probation, the court must require you to install an ignition interlock device on any vehicle you own or drive. However, the court must then remove the interlock requirement if you install and maintain the device on your vehicle without issue for six months.

Have You Been Arrested for Driving While Impaired by Drugs?

If you have an upcoming court date for a DUI-D case in New York, it is important that you understand what's at stake and what defenses may be available to you. The New York DWI / DUI defense lawyers at Tilem & Associates, P.C. have more than two decades of experience skillfully defending clients charged with driving under the influence of drugs. We understand the best DUI defenses and how to use them to ensure your case ends with the best result possible. We are immediately available to meet with you to get started working on a compelling defense to the charges you face. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation today, call 877-377-8666. You can also reach us through our online contact form.

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