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DWAI / Drugs

Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI) by alcohol is the lowest level of drunk driving offenses in New York, but  Driving While Ability Impaired by Drugs (DWAI-D) is a much more serious offense. Unlike a DWAI arrest for a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) greater than .05 but less than .08 that is more like a speeding ticket violation, a DWAI by drugs is a criminal offense that can result in possible fines, jail time, and suspension of driving privileges.

You may be charged with DWAI – Drugs if a police officer believes you were operating a motor vehicle while your ability was impaired by a controlled substance, illegal narcotics, or even prescription drugs or over-the-counter medications.  DWAI-D cases can be even more complex than offenses like DWAI by alcohol or Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) charges, but that is true for both the alleged offenders and the prosecutors.

Nassau County DWAI / Drugs Lawyer

It is in your best interest to immediately contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as you have been charged with DWAI by drugs. Law Office of Stephanie Selloni serves clients accused of drug crimes and driving violations in Garden City, Freeport, Hempstead, and the greater Nassau County area.

Stephanie Selloni defends the rights of clients all over Long Island and in all five boroughs of New York City. You can receive a free consultation to discuss your case when you call 516-972-1212 today.


New York DWAI / Drugs Information Center


DWAI / Drugs Charges in Long Island

New York Vehicle and Traffic Law § 1192.4 states that "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." This can include such illegal drugs as:

  • Amphetamines
  • Barbiturates
  • Benzodiazapines
  • Cocaine / Crack
  • Crystal Meth
  • Ecstasy
  • Heroin
  • Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD)
  • Marijuana (Cannabis)
  • 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (Ecstasy)
  • Methamphetamine (Crystal Meth)

It is also important to note that DWAI – Drugs can also apply to certain prescription drugs or over-the-counter medications.

DWAI / Drugs Penalties in New York

Your first conviction for DWAI by drugs is a misdemeanor offense that can result in the following consequences:

  • Up to one year in jail
  • Fine of at least $500, up to $1,000
  • License suspended for at least six months

The penalties get more severe for subsequent DWAI – Drugs offenses. A second DWAI-D offense within 10 years is a Class E felony that can result in up to $5,000 in fines, a maximum of four years in prison, and at least one year of license revocation. A third offense within 10 years is a Class D felony that can result in up to $10,000 in fines, a maximum of seven years in prison, and having your license revoked for at least one year. If you receive five or more DWAI-D convictions during your lifetime, you could permanently lose your license.

Defenses to DWAI / Drugs Charges in Nassau County

A DWAI – Drugs arrest can involve very different types of evidence than charges stemming from alcohol. There are certain defenses that can apply to both types of arrests, but there are also defenses that are unique to DWAI-D charges. Some of these may include, but are not limited to:

  • Illegal stop — Any driving arrest—whether it involves drugs, alcohol, or both—begins with the original reason the police officer had to pull you over. If there was no probable cause or reasonable belief that you were engaging in criminal behavior, this can result in all charges being dismissed.
  • Unreliable officer observations —Many of the most commonly cited behavioral observations cited by police officers in drug and alcohol-related driving arrests can have perfectly understandable explanations. If the arresting officer in your case claimed you had bloodshot eyes, enlarged pupils, or slurred speech can be the result of allergies, lack of sleep, or simple nervousness about being pulled over instead of being caused by illegal drug use.
  • Challenging validity of field sobriety tests — If the only evidence of your alleged impairment by drugs is how you performed on a field sobriety test (FST), then you can contest the results based on where the tests were performed, whether the officer performed the FSTs correctly, how considerations of your physical or mental condition may have affected the results, or question the basic accuracy of such tests and whether a sober individual would have passed.
  • Improper handling of urine test — Failure to follow protocol or properly secure evidence can result in tampering. If authorities erred at any point in the procedure of handling your drug test, you may be able to challenge the results and have the charges against you dismissed.
  • Evidence of drugs in your system does not equate to drugs impairing your ability to operate a motor vehicle — Cocaine may stay in your urine for up to four days and in your blood for up to two days. Methamphetamine (crystal meth) might stay in your urine for almost a week and in your blood for about three days. Marijuana can stay in your urine for as long as one month and stay in your blood for up to two weeks. The point is that a positive drug test of any kind is not necessarily proof that you were under the influence of that drug at the time you were driving.

Find A DWAI / Drugs Lawyer in Long Island

If you have been charged with DWAI – Drugs in New York, you will want to be sure to have proven legal representation in court. Law Office of Stephanie Selloni represents clients who are facing drug charges in Nassau County, Suffolk County, and all over Long Island.

Stephanie Selloni is a skilled and compassionate criminal defense attorney who fights for individuals accused of DWAI-D in Westbury, Mineola, Floral Park, and New York City. She can review your case and discuss your legal options when you call 516-972-1212 to schedule a free, confidential consultation.