The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (Chapter 92 of the Laws of 2021) was chaptered into law on March 31, 2021. The Act legalized the adult-use of cannabis and established the Office of Cannabis Management to implement a comprehensive regulatory framework to cover medical, adult-use, and cannabinoid hemp programs.
To learn more about the Office of Cannabis Management, please visit the Office of Cannabis Management website.
Are there any changes to the rules of the road?
Under the new legislation, driving under the influence of cannabis is prohibited, just as it is today.
The law prohibits:
- The possession or consumption of open containers of alcoholic beverages in a vehicle remains illegal. Vehicle and Traffic Law (VTL) § 1227 (1).
- The burning of cannabis by anyone in a vehicle is also illegal under the open container law. VTL § 1227 (1).
Any driver or passenger engaged in a violation of the open container law will be charged with a traffic infraction.
Impaired driving under the influence of Cannabis continues to be a misdemeanor under VTL § 1192. See additional information on penalties associated with impaired driving.
Detecting Drug Impairment
New York State’s Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC) will be coordinating with the Office of Cannabis Management, the State Police, and other law enforcement partners to continue to conduct Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) Training and Advanced Roadside Impaired Driver Enforcement (ARIDE) Training.
The Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement (ARIDE) course was developed to train law enforcement officers to observe, identify and articulate the signs of impairment related to drugs, alcohol, or combination of both, in order to reduce the number of impaired driving incidents as well as crashes which result in serious injuries and fatalities.
Many law enforcement officers are trained in Standardized Field Sobriety Testing (SFST) and the skill gained in the course as part of their overall enforcement of driving while impaired (DWI) laws. Additionally, some officers complete more advanced training through the Drug Evaluation and Classification (DEC) program and become Drug Recognition Experts (DRE).
This course is intended to bridge the gap between the SFST and DRE courses and provide the participants with an awareness of drug impairment in the context of traffic safety.
To be considered for ARIDE TRAINING the applicant must meet the following criteria:
- Have a minimum of one year Road Patrol experience.
- Be off probation with your agency.
- Have at least one year of experience after successfully completing the NHTSA SFST Training.
- Have a reasonable background and level of experience in making DWI arrests.
This course is divided into sessions that are designed to provide the participant with an overview of the issue of impaired driving and the effects of drugs and alcohol on a person's ability to operate a vehicle safely, as well as demonstrate methods of identifying and processing the impaired driver.
This course builds on the SFST course. In order for the participant to effectively utilize the information presented in this course, NHTSA has set a prerequisite of SFST proficiency. The participant will receive a short review and update for the SFST's. After completing that session, the participant will be required to pass a SFST proficiency evaluation. Failure to successfully complete the SFST proficiency evaluation will result in dismissal from the class. At the end of the two days training a Final Exam will be given that the participant must pass with a score of 80 or above to receive a certificate.
There is no charge to attend a GTSC sponsored ARIDE class. However, travel to and from the class and lunch is the responsibility of the attendees.
The DRE school is extremely demanding and intense training. To receive certification as a DRE, three phases of training must be completed.
The academic training is broken into two phases:
- The first phase consists of the Pre-School. This is a two-day program with the objective of ensuring that the student is prepared and capable of completing the seven-day DRE school. The Pre-School is conducted the first 2 days of the academic training. New York has implemented a combined course where the preschool and 7-day school are taught together. Students must successfully pass a SFST proficiency exam as well as a written exam in order to progress to the DRE school. Failure to pass either of these exams will result in dismissal from the course.
- The second phase of the academic training is conducted over 7 days. The training will include instruction in physiology, vital signs, as well as extensive material on each of the seven drug categories of the drugs of abuse and their general indicators. There will be written quizzes. Students must achieve a minimum of 80% on the final examination in order to progress to the Field Certification phase of the training.
After successfully completing the academic portion of the training, the students return for the third phase, Field Certification training. Students will be required, under the supervision of Drug Recognition Instructors and the State Coordinator, to complete a minimum of twelve evaluations on drug impaired individuals. Each student has to correctly identify subjects under the influence of three of the seven drug categories. In addition, the student must maintain a progress log, rolling log and submit a comprehensive resume. At the conclusion of the Field Certification program the student participates in the Comprehensive Final Knowledge Examination and must pass to become certified. This exam is a pass/fail.
To be considered for DRE training, the applicant must meet the following criteria:
- Have a minimum of two years of law enforcement service.
- Be off probation with your agency.
- Have at least two years' experience after successfully completing the NHTSA SFST Training.
- Must have successfully completed the classroom version of ARIDE training within the past 5 years. The online version of ARIDE will not suffice for this requirement.
- Have a reasonable background and experience level of making DWI arrests.
The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) is the regulating organization for the DRE program. DRE certification is valid for two years only. In order to maintain certification, DRE's must conduct a minimum of four evaluations within the two years, submit a rolling log and current resume, and attend sixteen hours of approved re-certification training.
The Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC) promotes and supports the participation of enforcement agencies at the local, county and state level in high visibility impaired driving enforcement efforts.
In the coming year, New York will participate in the Labor Day and holiday season national mobilizations. In addition, STOP-DWI High Visibility Engagement Campaigns will be conducted during several other holiday periods throughout the year.
A major component of New York’s efforts to address impaired driving is the STOP-DWI program which returns fines collected for impaired driving convictions to the counties where the violations occurred to fund enforcement and other impaired driving programs at the local level. Each year, a total of approximately $19,000,000 in fine monies is returned to the county STOP-DWI programs to support local initiatives.
Since the STOP-DWI program is self-sustaining, GTSC is able to use the federal funds received by New York to support a variety of state-level initiatives that complement the local efforts and strengthen the overall impaired driving program. As the organization responsible for the oversight of the STOP-DWI program, authorized by Vehicle & Traffic Law § 1197 (see link below). GTSC is also in a position to maximize the opportunities for cooperative efforts that encompass all regions of the state.
New York’s passage of the STOP-DWI legislation in 1981 laid the foundation for enhancing the deterrent effects of its drunk driving laws. To that end, New York increased the civil and criminal penalties for drunk driving and directed the return of DWI fine monies back to each county to create the STOP-DWI program that would coordinate increased enforcement, prosecution and public information and education efforts.
In New York: The Consequences
New York Laws
Statutes which prohibit Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) are contained in Article 31 of New York’s Vehicle & Traffic Law. Various sections within Article 31, beginning with section 1192, describe the offenses, sanctions, and procedures related to a violation.
In addition to Article 31, New York Penal Law Section 125 describes crimes and sanctions related to drunk drivers who cause a crash in which someone is killed or injured. All sections of Article 31 can be found at the end of the section and a reference chart of typical DWI violations and sanctions can also be found at the end of the section. Section 511 of the Vehicle & Traffic Law sets forth the violations and sanctions for driving a vehicle with a suspended or revoked license.
Financial Costs to Offenders
According to New York State STOP-DWI Association (STOP-DWI), fines for alcohol/drugged driving offenses range from $300 to $10,000. In addition to fines, court surcharges are applied to each offense and range from $260 for conviction of Driving While Alcohol Impaired (DWAI) (a violation) to $520 for a felony offense.
Separate from fines and surcharges, DMV is required by law to collect a $750.00 driver responsibility assessment (DRA). If eligible for a conditional license (which offers limited driving privileges), a motorist must pay a fee of $200 to $225 to attend the NYS Impaired Driver Program (IDP). If referred for alcohol and substance abuse evaluation, each offender is responsible for the cost of treatment not covered by insurance.
Per STOP-DWI, the offender will also likely have to hire an attorney to represent them in court. Depending on the complexity of the case, attorneys’ fees can range from $2,000 to $10,000 and possibly higher.
According to STOP-DWI the offender will have to purchase automobile insurance from the risk pool. The premiums paid by this group are typically 3 times that of other drivers.
STOP-DWI’s analysis estimate the total financial cost of a typical DWI at around $4,000 to $15,000.
New York DWI laws prohibit persons charged with driving while intoxicated from pleading guilty to a non-alcohol related offense except with the consent of the district attorney, who must place their reasons for the reduction on the record at the time of the plea.
In addressing the practice of plea bargaining, which is an essential component of an overburdened criminal justice system, the New York lawmakers put in place landmark legislation regarding DWI related offenses. See below for chart of penalties.
Eleven-year-old Leandra Rosado’s life came to a tragic end on October 11, 2009, in a DWI crash on the Henry Hudson Parkway. She and six other children were in a car driven by Carmen Huertas, a friend’s mother, who was under the influence of alcohol. The vehicle spun out of control and Leandra’s body was ejected out of the vehicles window causing her death. The six other children were seriously injured as well. Leandra’s father, Lenny Rosado, has become a fierce proponent of harsher DWI laws and his lobbying combined with momentum from the tragic crash has led to quick changes in New York’s DWI laws.
The Proposed Legislation became effective as Law November 18, 2009:
Any person operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated (.08 BAC or greater) or impaired by drugs and transporting a child 15 years old or younger shall be charged with a Class E felony punishable by up to 4 years in state prison.
Ignition Interlock Mandate effective August 15, 2010:
Any driver upon conviction for a misdemeanor or felony DWI offense as part of any sentence must have an interlock device installed on all vehicles owned or operated by the defendant. The driver is responsible for paying for the installation and maintenance of the interlock device.
Vince’s Law (Multiple DWI Offenses)
The penalty levels for offenders who commit four or more DWI offenses within 15 years is a Class D Felony with an indeterminate prison sentence 2 1/3 to 7 years in state prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
This Law allows the judge to suspend the license or learner’s permit of a minor charged with DWI or DWAI until the minor’s next court appearance.
Directs that the judge consider prior DWI or DWAI convictions when sentencing a person for Boating While Intoxicated or Boating While Ability Impaired.
ADDITIONAL CONSIDERATIONS WHEN YOUR LICENSE IS REVOKED: The Department of Motor Vehicles determines when your license can be returned if it is revoked. The restoration or reinstatement of a revoked license is not automatic. You must reapply for your license and may have to pass tests.
Relicensure applicants with two or more alcohol or drugged driving related convictions or incidents within the preceding 25 years will be required to serve their entire revocation period and will be required to submit proof of rehabilitation.
Relicensure applicants with three or four alcohol or drug driving related convictions or chemical test refusals within 25 years, but no serious driving offenses, must wait at least five years before submitting a relicensure application. An applicant with three or four alcohol or drug driving related convictions or chemical test refusals within 25 years, along with a serious driving offense, will be permanently revoked. Also, persons with five or more alcohol or drug related driving convictions in a lifetime will be permanently revoked. Those denied relicensure will have the opportunity to request an exception to the denial.
Additional information on how to request restoration after a driver license revocation can be found on the DMV website.
Courts must order all drivers convicted of misdemeanor or felony drunk-driving charges to install and maintain ignition interlock devices on any vehicles they own or operate at their own expense, in addition to any other terms of sentence.