Westchester County DWI Drug Lawyer
The laws make it illegal to operate any motor vehicle while under the influence of an intoxicating substance. Many people think of alcohol when thinking of DWI charges. However, State laws also prohibit the operation of a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs.
A Westchester County DWI drug lawyer could help you if you are facing an allegation of impaired driving involving drugs. A well-versed DWI attorney could work to help you to understand the relevant laws, evaluate the legality of the police actions that led to your arrest, and develop a defense to protect your future.
The Laws that Prohibit Impaired Driving in Westchester County
The State has made it illegal to operate any vehicle while impaired by a controlled substance. The classic example of this impairment involves driving while under the influence of alcohol. However, the laws prohibit a far wider range of activities. New York Vehicle and Traffic Code §1192 state that people who operate a vehicle while impaired because of a drug commit the same offense as those who drive while drunk.
In addition, the law specifically states that it is not just illegal drugs that qualify under this statute. This means a driver may violate the law if they take a prescription medication or over some over-the-counter medicines if that substance hinders their ability to drive.
The penalties for a drug-related DWI are identical to those for alcohol DWIs. A first conviction can result in a jail sentence of up to one year, a minimum fine of $500, or both. In addition, a guilty verdict mandates a license suspension of at least six months. A Westchester County lawyer could help individuals understand the state’s DWI drug laws and the possible penalties.
It is important to note that while a high level of alcohol in a driver’s bloodstream could lead to an aggravated DWI charge, the same is not true for a drug-related arrest. This is because the language of the statute is specifically tied to a driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC). An aggravated DWI carries steeper penalties compared to the standard offense.
What Drugs are Commonly Involved in a DWI?
In addition to alcohol, there are numerous other controlled substances that could result in a DWI arrest. One of the most common drugs involved in impaired driving cases are prescription medication. Many people assume that because they have a prescription for the substance, they are fine to drive. This is often not the case, as many of these drugs include instructions that driving is prohibited while in the user’s system. Other drugs commonly involved in these cases include:
Additionally, the combination of two or more substances could also lead to a DWI conviction. Some substances interact in a way that can lead to extreme intoxication that would otherwise have a reduced effect. For example, sleeping pills can lead to heavy intoxication when combined with alcohol.
What a Prosecutor Must Prove in a DWI Drug Case
Prosecutors in Westchester County have two options that they can use to prove a person was impaired due to drugs. Much like cases built around drunk driving, a prosecutor may introduce chemical evidence of a person’s intoxication. All drivers give their tacit consent to submit to chemical testing as part of receiving a driver’s license. An officer may require a person to submit to these tests if they have a reasonable suspicion of impairment due to drugs. While a driver may refuse this test, doing so carries severe consequences.
The other option prosecutors may use when building a case is simply using the officer’s observations. Under the law, an officer can make an arrest simply if they have probable cause to believe that a driver was impaired due to drug use. An officer may cite bloodshot eyes, erratic behavior, and the results of field sobriety tests to bolster this case. A lawyer in Westchester County could cross-examine officers at trial to challenge the strength of their beliefs concerning intoxication due to drugs in a DWI case.
Do Field Sobriety Tests Detect Drug Use?
Standard field sobriety tests like the one-legged stand or the walk and turn are intended to detect signs of alcohol intoxication. They are not designed to identify the use of other controlled substances. However, there is form of field tests that targeted to test for drug use. These tests are administered by a drug recognition expert, or DRE.
These tests involve some of the standardized field sobriety tests along with testing blood pressure and watching for other physical signs of drug use. Like the standardized field sobriety tests, those completed DRE are highly subjective and do not necessary indicate intoxication. An attorney in Westchester County could fight to have the results of these tests excluded from the drug DWI case if they believe they are inaccurate.
A Westchester County DWI Drug Attorney Could Help
If you are facing allegations involving driving while under the influence of drugs, it is important to act quickly to protect your future. A DWI based on drugs carries the same effects and penalties as those centered around alcohol.
A Westchester County DWI drug lawyer could help you no matter what basis an officer had for making an arrest. This includes challenging the officer’s reasoning for making a traffic stop, working to dispute the accuracy of any chemical tests, and cross-examining an officer at trial to highlight errors in their observations at the time of the arrest. Call today to get started on your Case.