Marijuana and Driving Laws in Central New York

Marijuana laws continue to change and evolve throughout the country as the use of the drug becomes more legally and socially accepted. In 2021, New York passed the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA), legalizing the possession and use of the cannabis plant by adults 21 years and older. 

Nevertheless, adults must continue to use marijuana responsibly; in particular, they are still not allowed to consume cannabis and operate a vehicle under New York traffic laws. With that said, if you receive a marijuana-related charge, it would be in your best interests to consult with a New York attorney for legal assistance as soon as possible.

Cannabis Impairs Driving Ability

Even with new legislation in place regarding adult cannabis use, New York traffic laws continue to prohibit driving while under the influence of drugs — marijuana included. Like alcohol, marijuana can impair an individual’s ability to drive safely, given that its use causes several effects on the body, including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Slowed reaction times
  • Altered perception of distance and time
  • Impaired cognitive skills
  • Difficulty maintaining attention

Operating a vehicle while under the influence means committing a traffic violation, and because marijuana has such an influence on the body, individuals should never consider driving after using it in the first place.

Marijuana and New York Rules of the Road

In New York, the charge for driving while under the influence of drugs is referred to as “driving while ability impaired” (DWAI). Oftentimes, a DWAI charge is different from a DUI or DWI, given that it is specifically drug-related, but a person can be apprehended for a DWAI alcohol charge if their blood alcohol content is between .05% and .07%.

Along with driving while impaired by the plant, it’s also illegal for both drivers and passengers to consume or possess open containers of marijuana while in the vehicle, even if the car is parked. Possession in a vehicle is legal, so long as the cannabis is out of reach and sight, such as in a closed container in the glove compartment or trunk.

Penalties for DWAI Conviction in New York

A penalty for a DWAI conviction depends on the circumstances involved, but it could include fines, jail time, license suspension, and probation. 

A first-time conviction is deemed a misdemeanor, and it is punishable by up to $1,000 in fines and one year in prison. Driver’s licenses may be suspended for a minimum of six months. 

A second conviction within 10 years is a Class E felony, punishable by fines of up to $5,000 and up to four years in prison. Driver’s licenses may be revoked for a minimum of a year. 

A third or subsequent DWAI charge within 10 years is a Class D felony punishable by up to $10,000 in fines and up to seven years in prison. Driver’s licenses may be revoked for a minimum of one year. 

Getting Help With Traffic Tickets for Marijuana From an Experienced Central New York Attorney

Being charged with a DWAI for marijuana can impact your life and jeopardize your future, but you don’t have to take on your legal battle alone. A knowledgeable attorney can investigate your situation to provide personalized advice while creating a defense strategy to get you a favorable case result.

New York Traffic Ticket Lawyers has extensive experience helping clients throughout Central New York with a variety of traffic tickets. From the infamous speeding ticket to more serious offenses, we use our skills, experience, and resources to provide the highest quality legal representation. Contact us today to schedule a consultation. 

David Hammond, Esq. is a traffic offense lawyer and prosecutor that has over a decade of experience fighting for the rights of service members and their families. He served nine years and went on two combat tours as an active duty US Army officer. He then joined the Reserves and moved to Syracuse to be near his family. Not only does he defend the rights of Central New Yorkers, but he also has a veteran-focused practice. David represents servicemen and women before the military appellate courts and takes cases to fix service members’ military records. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact David by clicking here.