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Facing charges for driving while under the influence of marijuana (DWUI) in Buffalo, NY, can lead to serious legal consequences and a stressful ordeal. At Trbovich Law Firm, we have experience in defending individuals accused of DWUI, leveraging our deep understanding of New York’s evolving marijuana laws to protect your rights and secure the best possible outcome. Contact us today for robust legal defense.

What Constitutes Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana in Buffalo?

Driving While Under The Influence of Marijuana Lawyer

Driving under the influence of marijuana in Buffalo, NY, like the rest of New York State, constitutes operating a motor vehicle while the effects of marijuana impair one's ability to do so. This impairment is illegal under New York State law, regardless of the state's stance on recreational or medicinal marijuana use. Here's what you need to know about what constitutes driving under the influence of marijuana:

Legal Definition

Under New York Vehicle and Traffic Law, a driver is considered to be under the influence if they are incapable of driving as a reasonable and prudent person would under similar circumstances, due to the influence of drugs, alcohol, or a combination of both. For marijuana, this is typically categorized under "ability impaired by drugs" (DWAI-Drug).

How Impairment is Assessed

Unlike alcohol-related DUIs, where blood alcohol content (BAC) can provide a clear, measurable standard (0.08% BAC for most drivers), there is no such "per se" limit for THC, the psychoactive component in marijuana. This makes detecting and proving impairment more subjective. Here’s how impairment from marijuana is generally assessed:

  • Behavioral Observations: Law enforcement may consider erratic or unsafe driving behavior as initial signs of impairment. This could include weaving, slow driving, failing to obey traffic signals, or reacting slowly to changes in traffic flow.
  • Physical Symptoms: During a traffic stop, officers will look for physical signs of marijuana use, such as bloodshot eyes, the odor of marijuana, slowed speech, and delayed reactions.
  • Field Sobriety Tests: Drivers suspected of DWAI may be asked to perform standard field sobriety tests (FSTs) designed to assess balance, attention, and motor skills. However, these tests can be less reliable in determining marijuana impairment compared to alcohol impairment.
  • Chemical Tests: Blood, urine, or saliva tests may be used to detect the presence of THC. However, these tests have limitations, as THC can remain in the system for days or weeks after use, long after any impairment has subsided.

Penalties for Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana in Buffalo

Driving under the influence of marijuana in Buffalo, NY, carries significant legal penalties that mirror those of driving while intoxicated (DWI) by alcohol, due to New York State's strict laws aimed at curbing impaired driving. The consequences of a conviction can vary depending on the case's specifics, including whether it's a first-time or repeat offense and whether any aggravating factors such as accidents or injuries are involved. Here's an overview of the potential penalties for driving under the influence of marijuana in Buffalo:

1. Fines

The fines for driving under the influence of marijuana can be substantial. F fines typically range from $500 to $1,000 for a first-time offense. Subsequent offenses can result in higher fines, potentially exceeding $2,000.

2. License Suspension or Revocation

A conviction for driving under the influence of marijuana will almost always result in some form of driver's license suspension or revocation. The suspension period can be at least six months for a first-time offense. Depending on the severity and frequency of the offenses, repeat offenses may lead to longer suspensions or even permanent revocation of driving privileges.

3. Jail Time

While first-time offenders may not always face jail time, the law allows for up to 1 year in jail for a first DWAI-Drug offense. For those with prior offenses, the potential jail time increases, and a third offense within a 10-year period could be classified as a felony with even harsher penalties, including several years in state prison.

4. Probation

Probation is another potential consequence of a DWAI-Drug conviction. Probation periods can last several years and often come with various conditions, such as regular drug testing, mandatory attendance at drug education or rehabilitation programs, and strict compliance with all court orders.

5. Mandatory Drug Education or Treatment Programs

Courts often require individuals convicted of driving under the influence of marijuana to participate in drug education or treatment programs. These programs are designed to help offenders understand the risks associated with drug use and impaired driving, and to reduce the likelihood of future offenses.

6. Criminal Record

A conviction for driving under the influence of marijuana will result in a criminal record, which can have long-term impacts on a person's life, including difficulties in finding employment, restrictions on travel, and other social and economic consequences.

7. Increased Insurance Rates

Similar to alcohol-related driving offenses, a conviction for driving under the influence of marijuana will likely lead to increased auto insurance premiums. Insurance companies may view individuals with such convictions as high-risk drivers, which can significantly increase the cost of insurance.

How Trbovich Law Firm Can Help

Our attorneys at Trbovich Law Firm have extensive experience with DWUI cases. We stay updated on all changes in marijuana legislation and use this knowledge to offer effective legal strategies. We analyze every aspect of your case, from the initial traffic stop to the methods used to determine THC levels, challenging any procedural errors or questionable evidence presented by the prosecution.

Challenging the Evidence

The evidence in DWUI cases can be complex and technical. We have experience in challenging the reliability of THC testing methods, which can be problematic due to how THC metabolizes differently than alcohol. Unlike alcohol, THC can remain detectable in the bloodstream long after its effects have worn off, which can unfairly suggest impairment. We also contest the subjective nature of physical and behavioral tests used by police to determine impairment.

Personalized Defense Strategies

Every DWUI case is unique. We develop personalized defense strategies tailored to the specifics of your situation. Whether it’s negotiating for reduced penalties, challenging unjust charges, or representing you at trial, our goal is to provide a robust defense that protects your future.

Support Through the Legal Process

We understand the anxiety that comes with facing a DWUI charge. Our team is committed to not only defending your legal rights but also providing support and guidance throughout the legal process. We ensure you are fully informed and prepared for all aspects of your case.

Charged with DWAI in Buffalo, NY? Contact Trbovich Law Firm Today!

Facing DWAI charges can be daunting, but you don't have to navigate it alone. Trbovich Law Firm is here to help, providing legal defense and guidance. Secure your rights and aim for the best possible outcome with our experienced attorneys. Call now for a consultation and take charge of your case.

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