Synthetic Drugs and DWI Law in New York

August 27, 2022


While many DWIs occur when an individual is intoxicated because of alcohol, New York DWI law also prevents drivers under the influence of certain drugs from operating a vehicle. The list of drugs that New York prevents drivers from using while operating a vehicle is extensive and includes opiates, depressants, stimulants and, hallucinogens. Even if a driver has a lawful prescription to a drug, this will not prevent them from receiving a DWI if the drug appears on New York’s banned substances list.

Synthetic drugs next to Judge's gavel

Nine years ago, the Court of Appeals in New York ruled that a driver who had inhaled the spray from an aerosol can was not intoxicated under New York law when he hit another vehicle. The court held the man was not intoxicated because the substance he had consumed was not on the list of banned controlled substances. This mean he could not be charged for impaired driving under the statute. This ruling has created a loophole in New York law because certain synthetic substances are not included on the list of intoxicants.

Status of New York Law on Synthetic Drugs

Currently there are several bills pending in the New York legislature regarding the classification of synthetic drugs. Thirteen states in the US, including New York, rely on lists of specific banned substances in developing convictions for driving while intoxicated. There is a push in the New York legislature to move to a broader definition of intoxicating drugs rather than an enumerated list. California has a much broader law that allows for intoxication charges to be brought if the operator of the vehicle is using any drug or alcohol that causes impairment. Critics of the law say that by making the definition of intoxicating substances ultra-broad would include things like Advil and Tylenol if some had an adverse reaction. However, if this bill passes it will add a whole new set of substances that are considered intoxicating for the purposes of a DWI.

Dangers of Synthetic Drugs

The push to include synthetic drug in New York’s controlled substances is largely because synthetic drugs have just as large of a risk to impair someone as traditional drugs or alcohol do. Because they have the same intoxicating effects, you should not drive under the influence of synthetic drugs. Synthetic drugs include synthetic marijuana, K2, and bath salts. Their use is greatly increasing among young people. How the drugs will affect individuals is difficult to predict because the chemicals used to manufacture them constantly change and can be made in individual’s homes. The drugs themselves can cause panic, chest pain, and hallucinations.

DWI Attorneys

If you have taken any intoxicating substance and gotten a DWI there can be serious lifelong consequences without proper legal help. An experienced DWI attorney can help you fight your DWI no matter what intoxicating substance was taken.

How Can We Help?

Charged with a DWI in New York? Contact our team today to learn your options. We’re available 24/7; (800) 570-1810.

DISCLAIMER: The exclusive purpose of this article is educational and it is not intended as either legal advice or a general solution to any specific legal problem.

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