Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana in New York

Marijuana-related DWI and DWAI offenses in New York.

Driving under the influence of marijuana is a crime in New York. This article explains the penalties imposed for DWI (driving while intoxicated) violations, but other laws regarding marijuana possession and sale could also apply to drivers and passengers.

Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana

It is illegal to drive a vehicle while under the influence of marijuana, alcohol, other drugs, or a combination of substances. When alcohol is involved, a blood alcohol level of .08% or more establishes the driver was "per se" intoxicated. However, for a driver to be convicted of a marijuana-related offense, the prosecution must show the driver was in an "intoxicated condition" (called a "DWI") or his or her ability to operate a vehicle was impaired (called a "DWAI") as the result of marijuana use.

Penalties for Marijuana DWIs and DWAIs

Penalties vary according to whether the offense is a first or subsequent conviction. And, while not described here, harsher penalties may apply if certain aggravating circumstances—like an excessive BAC or minor passengers—are involved.

  • First convictions. A defendant will typically face a fine of $500 to $1,000, up to one year in jail, and a six-month license suspension.
  • Second conviction within ten years. Penalties ordinarily include a fine of $1,000 to $5,000, up to four years in prison, and a one-year minimum license suspension. The judge may also order up to 30 days of community service, some of which may be completed in lieu of jail time (if approved by the judge)and participation in an alcohol or substance abuse education or treatment program.
  • Third and subsequent convictions within ten years. Penalties normally include a fine of $2,000 to $10,000, up to seven years in prison, and at least one year of license suspension.

An Important Note on Local Legal Representation

If you have been charged with a marijuana-related driving offense, consult an experienced criminal defense attorney. While the penalties and consequences of a marijuana charge are governed by statutory law, only a local criminal defense attorney can tell you how cases like yours tend to be handled by prosecutors and judges in your courthouse.

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