NY Vehicle and Traffic Law 1192.1 – Driving While Ability Impaired
There are multiple drunk driving offenses that exist in New York law. Driving with a very high blood alcohol content is a very serious drunk driving offense. Repeat DWI offenses are also a gravely serious matter.
On the other end of the spectrum, the lowest drunk driving offense in New York law is driving while ability impaired. It’s a violation of New York Law 1192.1. To drive while ability impaired means what it says – it means to drive a vehicle while your ability to drive the vehicle is impaired. Even though it’s the least serious of the New York DWI laws, it’s still a serious matter.
Alcohol or drugs can impair your ability to drive
The law applies to both alcohol or drugs. If it applies to drugs, it might apply to either prescription medications or illegal drugs. Anytime that alcohol or a controlled substance impairs your ability to operate a vehicle in a regular, normal manner, you’re in violation of New York law 1192.1.
It can be hard to understand where driving while ability impaired falls in New York law. On the one hand, New York doesn’t even classify it as a crime. Instead, they look at it as a violation. However, it’s a violation that can bring up to 15 days in jail. That makes it a violation that looks and feels a lot like a crime. The violation also stays on a person’s record. That can create a problem for people who want to work in a field that requires driving.
Did alcohol impair your ability to drive
To prove a driving while ability impaired offense, the police need to show poor driving. It’s not enough to simply show your blood alcohol content or an intoxicated state. Instead, law enforcement must show that the alcohol or drugs have an impact on your driving. This might mean showing that you couldn’t stay in your lane. It might mean that you’re not able to maintain a consistent speed on the road. Even things like failing to dim your bright lights for oncoming traffic may indicate that your ability to drive is impaired by alcohol.
Ultimately, it’s a question for the jury. Certainly, people make driving errors when they don’t have any alcohol in their system. They might just be tired, or they might not be paying attention. It’s up to the trier of fact to look at all of the evidence in order to determine the truth.
Taking your case to trial
What might seem like an open and shut case to a law enforcement officer may not be so clear to the trier of fact. You might need to do some work in order to build your case. There may be video available from the officer’s dash cam or body cam that can show that you were driving well. It might also show you on the day in question. If you’re not slurring your words and you perform well on sobriety tests, this is evidence that can work in your favor. There’s also the chance that there are other witnesses that can talk about your driving or your physical state on the day and time in question. It’s up to you to gather this evidence and present it at your trial.
Even though New York law 1192.1 isn’t technically a crime, the potential penalties available are still significant. The court can order you to jail for up to 15 days. If it’s your second conviction, that rises to up to 30 days. Not everyone that’s convicted of driving while ability impaired serves the maximum offense. In fact, most people don’t. It’s up to you to make your case to the judge for why a certain sentence is appropriate. Then, it’s up to the judge to determine your sentence.
In addition to jail time, there are financial consequences. You may have to pay a fine to the court. The fine ranges between $300 and $500. On top of that, you have to pay surcharges on your driver’s license.
That isn’t the only problem you’ll have with your driver’s license. A conviction for driving while ability impaired comes with a 90-day license suspension. You may be able to apply for a conditional license. In addition, you’ll likely need to attend an impact panel where you listen to the victims of drunk driving tell their stories.
The burden of proof
Of course, the penalties for driving while ability impaired only apply if you’re convicted. The burden of proof is beyond a reasonable doubt. In order for you to be convicted of driving while ability impaired, it’s up to the state to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you’re guilty of the offense. If you can present some evidence that builds doubt, your case may end in a finding of not guilty.
May 17, 2018
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