Any kind of impaired driving charge can bring major consequences, ranging from career implications to increased insurance costs. However, driving while ability impaired (DWAI/Drug) or drugged driving charges may carry increased social stigma and secondary consequences for those who wind up convicted or who plead guilty to such charges when compared with standard alcohol-related charges.

With alcohol-related impaired driving charges, the state has an established level of impairment. Regardless of your driving performance, if chemical tests indicate that your blood alcohol concentration BAC is at 0.08% for those driving passenger vehicles or 0.04% for those in control of commercial vehicles, criminal charges will likely result.

Is there a similar level of impairment established for prohibited drugs or prescription medication?

Alcohol is the only compound with an established level for legal impairment

People have different metabolisms and they respond in strikingly different manners to the same dosage of a drug. The same is true of alcohol, although research was eventually able to establish 0.08% as a level at which most drivers will experience noteworthy levels of impairment.

Some people continue to dispute 0.08% BAC as a reasonable cut-off for alcohol impairment, and there is no consensus on any other drug that may lead to DWAI charges. Even marijuana, one of the more common banned drugs found in drivers’ systems, can affect people in very disparate ways and become a source of impairment at very different doses. Although there has been substantial effort and research put into finding a legal limit or impairment level, New York has yet to establish one.

A failed drug test doesn’t necessarily mean impaired driving

Too many people are quick to jump to the conclusion that if someone had certain drugs in their body, they must have had an impaired ability to drive safely. Simply failing a drug test doesn’t inherently indicate that a driver was dangerous to the public or impaired at the time of their arrest.

Drivers accused of DWAI/Drug can potentially defend themselves against pending charges by challenging whether the amount involved led to impairment or whether they were under the influence at the time of driving, as a drug test doesn’t indicate impairment, merely the presence of the chemical.