When you think of a DWI charge, do you imagine someone who is drunk behind the wheel? You may be surprised to learn that drugs are now the top concern for many DWI experts, as more areas legalize marijuana and struggle with the opioid epidemic. New York may see additional consequences because of these drug problems, particularly since other states in the region - notably, Massachusetts - are legalizing pot for recreational use.
What is the scope of the problem? Statistics show that about 43 percent of drivers killed in car accidents in the U.S. in 2015 tested positive for drugs. Compare that to just 37 percent of driver fatalities that are attributable to alcohol. Marijuana and amphetamines were the most common drugs found in those victims' systems.
Should drivers be concerned about facing a DWI charge because of drugs? The answer is complicated. So far, there are no valid roadside tests to determine whether a driver is intoxicated on marijuana or other drugs. Further, police officers often struggle to determine whether someone is high, and investigating a drugged driving case can be more difficult than a drunk driving incident. Drugged driving laws are widely considered to be more difficult to enforce and use during prosecution.
What are your options if you are accused of drugged driving? Defendants have legal rights and options in court if they face a DWI charge related to drugged driving. Just like someone who may be facing an alcohol-related offense, drugged driving defendants are protected against illegal search and seizure, among other legal violations. In many instances, arresting officers make mistakes that lead to a dismissed charge - but you will not be able to identify those missteps on your own. Consider seeking an attorney's help to minimize the legal consequences of a DWI charge.
Source: NewYorkUpstate.com, "Drugged driving now bigger highway threat than drunk driving," James T. Mulder, April 26, 2017