Marijuana Laws & Driving Under the Influence in New York

Currently, recreational use of marijuana is not legal in the state of New York. However, policies are changing quickly and many expect legalization to come soon.


Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana in New York

What are penalties for driving under the influence of marijuana? 

The penalties vary depending on the type and number of offences it is.  If it is a first conviction, the defendant could be fined anywhere from $500 to $1,000, one year in jail, and possible six-month license revocation. If it is a second offense, then the person is subject to a fine of $1,000 to $5,000, up to four years in state prison, and up to one-year license suspension. If it is a third offense, the person is subject to $2,000 to $10,000 fine, up to 7 years in prison, at least one-year license suspension, and forced use of ignition interlock device after license suspension is lifted.  If the repeated offenses are within a certain number of years, various other penalties can come into play such as permanent revocation of a license and face higher fines and jail time.

What is the difference between DWI and DWAI?

A DWI stands for Driving while Intoxicated and is charged when someone has a .08 Blood Alcohol Content or higher. A DWAI/ Drug stands for Driving While Ability Impaired by a single drug other than alcohol. Both hold similar penalties except there is no baseline amount found in system that a DWAI Drug will be charged.

Do breathalyzers work for weed?  

Many are working to create a breathalyzer to detect if a driver is under the influence of marijuana, but there is not currently a tool law enforcement uses to evaluate a driver’s sobriety.

How will drivers be tested?

The police use field sobriety tests to evaluate the driver’s impairment and usually ask for a blood sample to confirm there are drugs in someone’s system.


Other Common Questions About Marijuana in New York State

When will marijuana be legal in New York?

Marijuana is getting closer to being legal in NYS. Governor Andrew Cuomo has pinned the legalization to be one of the biggest tasks on his agenda for 2019. In NYC, police have announced that they will hand out tickets instead of arrest for those found with possession of the drug with a few exceptions.  Since its inception, cannabis has led the state to receive nearly one billion in tax revenue. An estimated half a billion annually once the drug is legalized.

Can I smoke Marijuana in public?

While possession and use of non-prescription marijuana is still illegal, there have been recent renovations of laws.  With the new policy effective September 2018, public smoking of marijuana will not be subject to arrest but a ticket.  There are a few exceptions to the policy including those who are on parole, have a criminal warrant, history of violence, are not in possession of identification, or are a threat to public safety.

Can I bring cannabis from a legal state to NY?

The short answer is no, you cannot bring cannabis from a legal place like California, Colorado or even Canada into NY legally.  Even in those places, the drug must be consumed in private quarters away from the public.  Possession or consumption of marijuana purchased in another state consumed in New York is still considered illegal and subject to local laws and actions.

When will licensed recreational marijuana dispensaries be open in New York?

The drug is not yet legalized and there is no set date for when there will be one available.  However, the governor has taken steps to legalize in the near future.  Various medical dispensaries are located throughout the state.