People in New York may think that DWAIs can only be assessed against drunk drivers. However, a drugged driver can also be charged with driving while ability impaired, as drugs can impair a person's ability to operate a motor vehicle. And, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is taking steps to bring awareness about the issue of drugged driving.
The NHTSA has announced a new campaign called, "Drive high, get a DUI." The Governors Highway Safety Association reports that there has been an uptick in the number of traffic fatalities nationwide due to drug use from 2008 to 2016. Some experts have stated that the legalization of marijuana in some states played a role in this increase in drugged driving traffic deaths The NHTSA emphasizes that drugged driving is against the law and poses a serious threat to our nation.
However, the fact remains that many police officers do not have sufficient training to recognize drugged driving in comparison to drunk driving. In addition, unlike a blood alcohol content test, toxicology tests for drugs cannot always provide a conclusive result, as marijuana can remain in a person's system long after they are impaired. Thus, motorists who test positive for having marijuana in their system may not actually be impaired at the time of their traffic stop.
Therefore, those charged with drugged driving may want to determine whether their traffic stop was lawful and whether the sobriety tests performed therein were accurate. In general, police need reasonable suspicion of criminal activity in order to pull a driver over. Reasonable suspicion can still apply if a motorist is pulled over on suspicion of one type of crime but is ultimately arrested for a different crime. Since reasonable suspicion can be complex, and because the accuracy of drugged driving tests can be called into question, those who have been charged with drugged driving will want to seek the legal advice needed to better understand their situation, so they can formulate a strong defense in their favor.