While not as commonly seen by DWI lawyers in the New York City area, Vehicle and Traffic Law 1192(4), Driving While Ability Impaired Drugs, is no less serious than an arrest for any other DWI or DUI crime. Having said that, those attorneys not experienced in New York’s drunk driving and drinking and driving laws can further the misinformation about this offense. The following blog entry will address some of the issues and elements of this crime. As always, please remember that this blog entry is no substitute with an in depth consultation with your own New York criminal lawyer.
The Elements of VTL 1192(4) – Driving While Ability Impaired Drugs
While not a legal decision from New York’s highest court, People v. Kahn, 160 Misc.2d 594 (Dist.Ct., Nassau Cty. 1994), gives a good outline of what prosecutors in New York must prove at trial against those accused of this DWAI based on drugs. There, the court set forth four elements. First, prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt (this is always the legal standard at a criminal trial) that the accused ingested a drug or drugs. Second, the drug alleged to have been ingested must be one of those substances set forth in Public Health Law 3306. Assuming both of these two elements are met, the prosecution must obviously prove that the accused then operated a motor vehicle. As noted in earlier entries and on the Saland Law PC website, this operation need not be actual driving with the car in motion. Finally, it must also be established that the accused’s ability to operate the motor vehicle was impaired by his or her use the drug. If these elements are all found and proven beyond a reasonable doubt, then the accused is guilty of VTL 1192(4).
Can Any Drug be the Basis for Violating VTL 1192(4) – Driving While Ability Impaired Drugs
The short answer to this question is “no.” That is, the ingestion or consumption of only certain drugs can be the basis of a DWAI crime as it relates to drugs. Despite this, the list is fairly exhaustive and is found under New York Public Health Law 3306. There, the New York State legislature set forth numerous categories and specific drugs too long to list in this entry. Generally, however, these drugs include hallucinogens, stimulants, opiates, narcotics and other controlled substances. The most common of these drugs are cocaine, heroin and marijuana (marihuana). It is interesting to note that “personal use” possession of almost all of these drugs, excluding marijuana, is a violation of New York Penal Law 220.03. Possession of marijuana is violation of New York Penal Law 221.10 or 221.05. This is relevant because NY PL 220.03 is an misdemeanor crime similar to DWI while NY PL 221.10 is a lesser misdemeanor and 221.05 is not a crime at all. Should you actually possess any of these substances at the time of your arrest, keep in mind that not only can you face equally serious crimes, but the case against you will likely be stronger.
Other Issues Involving VTL 1192(4) – Driving While Ability Impaired Drugs
With extensive case law addressing the statutes of New York’s Vehicle and Traffic Law, there are countless issues that routinely appear in DWI prosecutions. One issue that those accused of any DWI crime should keep in mind is that “impairment” and “intoxication” are not the same thing. While intoxication may require more proof at trial, ones’s impaired condition is established when the prosecution proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused was impaired to any extent – even if slight. In impairment cases, the burden on the prosecution is much less although all elements must still be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
For a wealth of information on New York DWI crimes as well as those relating specifically to VTL 1192(4), review Saland Law PC’s website. There you will find detailed analysis as well as links to numerous DWI blog entries on the New York Criminal Lawyer Blog (NewYorkCriminalLawyerBlog.Com).
Founded by two former Manhattan prosecutors, the New York DWI attorneys and criminal lawyers at Saland Law PC represent the accused throughout the New York City region.