DWAI / Marijuana
New York has taken steps to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana, and the state legalized medical marijuana when Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Compassionate Care Act. Despite the efforts to reduce criminal offenses relating to cannabis, a person may still be charged with Driving While Ability Impaired by Drugs (DWAI-D) if he or she allegedly operates a motor vehicle while under the influence of marijuana.
This type of arrest can result in possible imprisonment, significant fines, and loss of driving privileges. However, it is important to understand that a prosecutor can have a very difficult time in these cases proving that motorists were under the influence of cannabis while they were behind the wheel.
Nassau County DWAI / Marijuana Lawyer
If you were recently arrested for DWAI – Drugs while allegedly under the influence of marijuana, it is important to immediately seek the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney. Stephanie Selloni defends residents of Long Island and all five boroughs of New York City against DWAI, drug possession, and other criminal charges.
Law Office of Stephanie Selloni represents clients in such communities as Mineola, Hempstead, Garden City, Westbury, Freeport, Floral Park, and other areas of Nassau County and Suffolk County. Call 516-972-1212 today to have your case reviewed during a free, confidential consultation.
Long Island DWAI / Marijuana Information Center
- How has recent legislation impacted marijuana crimes in New York?
- What might a person be charged with for allegedly driving under the influence of cannabis?
- What are the possible punishments if a person is convicted of these offenses?
- How can alleged offenders defend themselves against these charges?
Beginning on November 19, 2014, people found by police to be in possession of 25 grams or less of marijuana will be issued a court summons instead of being arrested on misdemeanor charges. However, law enforcement can still arrest alleged offenders when marijuana is burning, if there was an intent to sell, the person has an outstanding warrant, or the person possessed cannabis near a school or park.
Additionally, the state has also taken steps to legalize the use of medical marijuana, but the Compassionate Care Act only allows doctors to prescribe it in nonsmokable form. Furthermore, the only people eligible for medical marijuana in New York will be those who have been diagnosed with the following serious conditions:
- Positive status for Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) or Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS)
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease)
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord with objective neurological indication or intractable Spasticity
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease (including Crohn’s Disease)
- Huntington’s Disease
In addition to the very limited number of people the law may serve, there are also concerns about the access to medical marijuana because of a limited number of dispensaries and the felony charges a doctor or physician could face for prescribing medical marijuana to a patient who is later deemed ineligible.
There are two statutes under New York State Law for which a person may be charged with DWAI by marijuana:
- Driving While Ability Impaired By Drugs, New York Vehicle and Traffic Law § 1192.4 — A person is prohibited from operating a motor vehicle while his or her ability to operate such a motor vehicle is impaired by the use of marijuana
- Driving While Ability Impaired By The Combined Influence of Drugs or of Alcohol and Any Drug or Drugs, New York Vehicle and Traffic Law § 1192.4-a — A person is prohibited from operating a motor vehicle while his or her ability to operate such motor vehicle is impaired by the combined influence of marijuana and other drugs or of alcohol and marijuana
Keep in mind that a DWAI charge is different from allegedly driving while intoxicated (DWI). In a DWI case, the prosecutor needs to prove that the alleged offender was legally intoxicated, but a DWAI only requires that the prosecutor demonstrates that the motorist’s ability to drive was impaired. In order to convict an alleged offender of DWAI – Marijuana, the prosecutor will not only need to prove that the motorist smoked or ingested cannabis, but also that the drug somehow impaired the alleged offender’s ability to operate a motor vehicle.
The severity of the possible punishments for a DWAI – Marijuana conviction increase with subsequent violations:
- First DWAI – Marijuana or DWAI – Combination — Misdemeanor punishable by fine of up to $1,000 and up one-year imprisonment. License may be suspended for minimum of six months in DWAI – Marijuana case, can be revoked for minimum of six months in DWAI – Combination case.
- Second DWAI – Marijuana or DWAI – Combination in 10 Years — Class E Felony punishable by fine of up to $5,000 and up four years imprisonment. License may be revoked for minimum of one year.
- Third or Subsequent DWAI – Marijuana or DWAI – Combination in 10 Years — Class D Felony punishable by fine of up to $10,000 and up seven years imprisonment. License may be revoked for minimum of one year.
There may also be additional surcharges by local jurisdictions, and a convicted offender could also be required to pay an annual driver responsibility assessment fee.
The process of charging a person with DWAI – Marijuana is very different from the methods police use when arresting an alleged offender for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. Numerous studies have shown that people under the influence of marijuana’s active ingredient, Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), perform better in field sobriety tests than individuals who are under the influence of alcohol.
This flaw combined with the lack of a roadside chemical test for police officers who suspect a motorist of being under the influence of marijuana means that law enforcement traditionally has to rely on the results of a test of the driver’s blood or urine. However, these results can be especially misleading in regards to cannabis, because marijuana that was smoked several days or weeks prior to the arrest can still show up in tests.
The failure to demonstrate that amounts of THC in a driver’s blood or urine constituted him or her actively being under the influence of cannabis is one of the primary defenses against these types of criminal charges, but some other possible defenses against a DWAI – Marijuana offense include, but are not limited to:
- Lack of probable cause to stop vehicle
- Subjective police officer observations
- Faulty chemical testing
Find A DWAI / Marijuana Lawyer in Long Island
A conviction for DWAI – Marijuana can have enormous impact on a person’s personal and professional life, but Stephanie Selloni will diligently work to help you achieve the most favorable outcome to your case. She aggressively defends clients all over Nassau County, Suffolk County, and all five boroughs of New York City against alleged driving violations, drug charges, and other criminal offenses.
Law Office of Stephanie Selloni serves residents of Long Island as well as Floral Park, Garden City, Mineola, Westbury, Hempstead, and Freeport. You can receive a free review of your case when you call 516-972-1212 to schedule a no obligation legal consultation.